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Home > Tuscaloosa Business News

Tuscaloosa Business News - 2016-02


We have news items here related to Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Duncanville man charged with manslaughter - A Duncanville man was charged with manslaughter Saturday, exactly one year after state troopers said he caused a fatal wreck.
Jason Simmons, 32, was driving a 1990 Ford F-150 truck that crashed into culvert and a tree on Indian Creek Road at 1:40 a.m. Feb 28, 2015, troopers said.
Passenger Austin Lane Loftis, 25, was killed.
A grand jury indicted Simmons on charges of manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident on Jan. 28. He was arrested Feb. 28 and later released on $75,000.
Simmons is not allowed to consume alcohol as a condition of his bond.
32826
February 29th, 2016
Annual sorority Easter egg hunt on Sunday - The Alabama Panhellenic Association’s annual Easter egg hunt will be at 2 p.m. Sunday on the front lawn of the President’s Mansion at the University of Alabama.
The free event for children 12 and younger featuring an egg hunt, face painting and appearance by the Easter Bunny will last until 4 p.m. or until the last egg is found. The event will include refreshments by Bama Dining and candy-filled eggs provided by sorority women organized through the APA Junior Panhellenic Delegate program.
Parking will be available behind Sorority Row, and visitors are asked not to park in the lot behind the mansion. The hunt will be canceled in case of inclement weather.
32825
February 29th, 2016
Author, Auburn walk-on to speak at luncheon - Author and communications consultant Thom Gossom Jr., a walk-on who helped integrate the Auburn University football team, will give a presentation as part of the American Advertising Federation luncheon on Wednesday.
Gossom was Auburn football's first black walk-on in 1970 and the first black athlete to graduate from the university.
Ahead of the luncheon, there will be a free reception from 9-9:30 p.m. at Stillman College in the Cordell Wynn Center. The cost for non-members to attend the luncheon presentation at the University Club is $15. To rsvp, visit www.aaftuscaloosa.com. The cost is $15 for non-members.
32824
February 29th, 2016
Stillman Research Symposium to begin March 7 - The two-day Stillman College Research Symposium highlighting research and work by faculty and students will begin March 7.
The keynote address will be given by K. Renee Horton, a NASA scientist from New Orleans, from 6-8 p.m. at Stinson Auditorium on March 7. On March 8, there will be poster presentations from 9-11 a.m. and oral presentations from 12:30-2:30 p.m. The symposium will conclude at 3 p.m. following an awards ceremony.
32823
February 29th, 2016
Efforts seek to improve supervision of parolees - The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles is looking for nearly 125 new, full-time employees to serve as probation and parole officers.
The Alabama Legislature's recent passage of a prison reform bill includes more money for the supervision of felony offenders. The goal of the increase in probation and parole officers is to curb recidivism and improve public safety.
The money will be used to hire 100 parole officers and 23 specialists throughout the state. The starting yearly salary for officers begins at $33,902, with an additional $3,000 in law enforcement subsistence pay. Specialists start out at $27,806. Applicants must be college graduates. For more information about the application process, go to www.personnel.alabama.gov or call 334-242-3389.
Meridith Barnes, chief legal counsel for the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles, said the addition of officers and specialists will drastically improve the efficiency of the agency, which annually supervises more than 64,000 probationers and parolees through 61 field offices throughout the state.
“It’s going to have some pretty dramatic impact on the areas of the state where our officers really have a much higher caseload. I think our rural areas have generally lower caseloads than cities like Birmingham or other urban areas in the state,” Barnes said.
Additionally, the agency added a Day Reporting Center in Birmingham, with plans to add more in other locations. The centers provide daily supervision of probationers and parolees.
The move to hire more probation and parole officers is part of a larger effort by state leaders to improve a prison that is perceived as being understaffed and underfunded.
“If you look at our criminal justice system, prison reform is something that has been needed, in my opinion over the last 25 years. The prison system is busting at the seams, the threat of federal takeovers, so obviously there is an issue there,” said Eddie Cook, assistant director of the parole board. “Then when you look at the supervision entity of the state, which is the Board of Pardons and Paroles, our officers have got caseloads close to 200.”
On Feb. 23, Gov. Robert Bentley announced the Alabama Prison Transformation Initiative Act, which calls for tearing down older prisons and replacing them with modern facilities.
“We have made significant progress over the last year to improve our criminal justice system, and with the construction of four new and modern prisons, Alabama is poised to be a national leader in safe and effective incarceration of inmates,” Bentley said in a news conference. “We cannot move our state forward without addressing the issues that have plagued the prison system for decades. We have a good plan to address the issues and with the partnership of the Alabama Legislature, we can solve the issues and make the Department of Corrections more efficient."
32822
February 29th, 2016
Board member, football coach resign at Tuscaloosa County Board of Education meeting - The Tuscaloosa County Board of Education said goodbye to two men who had served the system for years, one on the board and one on the football field.
On Monday, the board approved the resignations of District 5 board member Mark Nelson and Tuscaloosa County High head football coach Lee Gibson. Nelson will leave to fill the District 3 seat on the Tuscaloosa County Commission. Nelson will be sworn in to his new position Wednesday.
The commission seat was previously held by longtime commissioner Bobby Miller, who died Jan. 29.
Superintendent Walter Davie said that while the school board will miss Nelson, he will be a strong asset to both the commission and the school system. Nelson will fill out the remainder of Miller's term and then run for a full term on the County Commission in the Nov. 8 general election.
“Mark has always been one of those people who is a very good listener and at the end of the day, he would make his own decisions on what he thought was best, but he put a lot of stock in listening to a lot of people, from teachers to parents,” Davie said.
Davie said that Nelson, who was a few months away from finishing his first term on the school board, had a strong connection to the community, which helped the system establish new relationships with different groups.
In addition, Davie said Nelson had been a strong leader for the board.
“He always pushed to do things,” Davie said. “He didn’t want to sit around and talk about it forever.”
Nelson has served as an attorney in the Tuscaloosa area for more than 20 years.
“The relationship I’ve made in the last five and a half years I wouldn’t trade for anything,” Nelson said. “I’d do it all again just because there are so many great people here to work with and I’m so proud of what they do and how hard they work.”
Board President Gary Mims said Nelson's contributions to the board were substantial.
"You will certainly be missed, but we all know where to find you," Mims said.
The Rev. Schmitt Moore, the District 1 board member, also wished Nelson well in his new role, which will start with him being sworn into office Wednesday.
"I appreciated the chance to have known you and worked with you," Moore said.
The board will have 30 days to appoint Nelson’s replacement to fulfill the remainder of his term. Board members serve six-year terms. Davie said the Tuscaloosa County Republican Executive Committee would be involved in the selection process.
"I think our board wants to work cooperatively with the Republican committee and we want to work and see if we can get someone we feel like would be good for the board and has interests that the Republican committee thinks represents their interests as well," Davie said.
Jim Zeanah, chairman of county GOP executive committee, said discussions have already taken place on how the process would be handled, but that he was not ready to say how that would work.
During the meeting Monday, the board decided they would begin accepting applications through March 14, making a decision by the end of the month. Starting this week, the system will begin advertising for the position.
The board also approved the resignation of Lee Gibson, head football coach at Tuscaloosa County High School. Gibson, who served as head coach for seven years, was also the English teacher at the school. He reportedly turned in his resignation notice Monday morning.
"We’ve had a good program up there," District 2 board member James Barnett said. "He’s also been a good teacher and community
leader and we’re going to miss him and wish him well on his new position."
After making it to the second round of the 7A football state playoffs in 2014, the football team had a 0-10 season in 2015.
No reason was given for Gibson's resignation or if he was taking another position at another school.
Barnett said the system would begin advertising for the position this week, which would include being a physical education teacher and head football coach.
Reach Drew Taylor at drew.taylor@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
32821
February 29th, 2016
Statewide contest include school board and judicial posts - BIRMINGHAM -- Alabama voters Tuesday will decide which candidates will advance in races to represent the state in Congress while they also pick candidates for the state board of education, the public service commission and local judicial posts.
U.S. Senate: Richard Shelby, who was first elected to the Senate in 1986 before he switched from the Democratic Party, faces challenges from four Republican opponents. They include businessman and former Marine Jonathan McConnell, and business owner Shadrack McGill, who served in the state Senate from 2010 and 2014. Shelby, 81, has touted consistent opposition to President Barack Obama. But he is also seeking a sixth term in an election year defined by voters' distaste for Washington insiders. Also challenging Shelby are businessman Marcus Bowman of Daphne and John Martin, a military veteran from Dothan. Democratic candidates Charles Nana and Ron Crumpton are competing for a place on the November ballot.
U.S. House: Four of six Republican incumbents running for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives face challenges from opponents in today's primary. There are no contested Democratic House races.
Rep. Robert Aderholt, who serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, is seeking an 11th term representing the 4th Congressional District, which covers a large section of north Alabama. Aderholt faces a challenge from Phil Norris, whose campaign is headquartered in Dothan — roughly 200 miles south of the district's southern boundary.
Orange Beach developer Dean Young is looking to unseat U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne in a rematch from a 2013 special primary runoff to fill the District 1 seat that was left vacant when Rep. Jo Bonner retired. Byrne was elected to his first full term in 2014. The 1st District covers a swath of southwest Alabama including Mobile.
Rep. Martha Roby is seeking her fourth term to represent District 2, which covers southeast Alabama and the Montgomery area. Roby faces challenges from Becky Gerritson, a Wetumpka tea party leader who testified before Congress in 2013 about the IRS targeting conservative groups, and Rob Rogers.
Rep. Mike Rogers, a former attorney and businessman from Anniston, is looking to secure his fourth term representing District 3, which covers a stretch of east Alabama. He's looking to defeat Larry Di Chiara, a longtime Auburn educator and administrator who pledges to defund the Department of Education and dismantle Common Core, among other things.
State Supreme Court: Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker must defeat GOP challenger Donna Beaulieu to keep his seat. Parker was elected to the state's high court in 2004 and was re-elected in 2010. Parker previously served as deputy administrative director of the courts and as legal adviser to Chief Justice Roy Moore. He also held leadership roles in several conservative organizations. Beaulieu is a Shelby County attorney whose campaign website touts 18 years of experience as a practicing attorney, a background as a small business owner and Christian principles.
Public Service Commission: Twinkle Cavanaugh, president of the utility-regulating Public Service Commission, is looking to defeat Republican challenger Terry Dunn, a former commissioner who wants to establish a special usage-based rate plan. Dunn has accused the commission of lacking transparency and serving utilities over ratepayers. Cavanaugh has said in campaign ads that she's used her position to fight the Obama administration's Environmental Protection Agency and “liberal environmentalists.”
State Board of Education: GOP incumbent Matthew Brown faces the most crowded primary field with three challengers looking to represent a swath of southwest Alabama that includes Mobile County. Brown, an engineer for the county highway department, was appointed by Gov. Robert Bentley to fill a vacant post in July. Local and national education writers were quick to point out that Brown never attended public schools and didn't appear to support of them.
Brown pledges to support career and technical education programs and -- like other Republican candidates -- fight or reverse federal influence in state school standards. Republicans Adam Bourne, Carl Myrick and Jackie Ziegler - wife of state auditor Jim Zeigler -- are also vying for Brown's position.
Longtime Republican incumbent Stephanie Bell, who represents central Alabama, and Democrat Ella Bell, whose district covers much of the state's Black Belt region, each face primary challenges. Board Vice President Jeff Newman is also in a three-way Republican race for District 7, which begins in northwest Alabama and stretches into Tuscaloosa and Jefferson counties.
Constitutional Amendment: Residents will also vote on a proposed amendment to the state Constitution to authorize the Legislature to replace a retirement system for judges, state Supreme Court justices, circuit clerks and district attorneys who are elected or appointed after Nov. 8.
State Treasurer Young Boozer supports the amendment and said in a statement that under the current system, circuit clerks and judges pay into their retirement plans but district attorneys don't. A new plan could save taxpayers roughly $4.3 million annually, Boozer said.
32820
February 29th, 2016
Local singer's performance earns perfect score at Apollo Theater's Amateur Night - After receiving a perfect score from the audience of the Apollo Theater on Feb. 24, a Stillman College graduate may be three performances away from winning the theater's annual Super Top Dog competition and the $10,000 cash prize that comes with it.
Twenty-five-year-old Thomas Davis Jr. flew to New York City on Feb. 23 to take the stage at the Apollo's Amateur Night, an 82-year-old Harlem variety show that helped launched the careers of musical titans including Ella Fitzgerald, Billie Holiday, Jimi Hendrix and more.
Davis was one of seven performers competing Feb. 24, and he closed the show after the notoriously harsh Amateur Night audience booed two singers off the stage before him.
Their jeers transformed when Davis stepped into the spotlight and sang a rendition of Sam Cooke's 1963 civil rights anthem "A Change is Gonna Come." The crowd responded with a standing ovation and voted Davis the champion of the night.
Davis said he grew up listening to Cooke, Al Green and the Temptations. He felt the song was the only appropriate choice given its place in history.
"That's my favorite song and the song I'm known for singing," Davis said. "I thought it would be fitting because it's Black History Month and I was in a place so essential to black culture."
He is now scheduled to face off March 9 against other Amateur Night Winners in a "Show Off" contest at the Apollo. If he wins there, he will advance to the "Top Dog" match on May 11, where top finishers qualify for the Nov. 23 Super Top Dog competition and its $10,000 prize.
Davis said he has been flooded with support from his friends and family in Tuscaloosa and elsewhere since his first place finish. He said he has countless notifications on social media accounts, and his phone died after he landed in Atlanta last week while trying to load all of his missed calls, voice mails and text messages.
The outpouring of support is almost overwhelming to the appreciative Davis, who is originally from Sumter County.
"I'm just a country boy trying to make my dreams a reality," Davis said. "I just want to say 'Thank you' to everybody who has supported us over the years, and to say 'don't stop,' because we need that support to keep going forward "
Davis said he moved to Tuscaloosa in 2000 and enrolled in Stillman College in 2008. He graduated with a bachelor's degree in history in 2013. He lives with his wife Charakii and his daughter two-year-old Skylar. He said he plans to release an original song as a radio single sometime soon.
Stephen Dethrage can be reached at stephen.dethrage@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0227.
32819
February 29th, 2016
Partners work to turn historic Drish House into events venue - Contractors are working around the clock at Tuscaloosa's historic Drish House to overhaul and renovate its interior in time for a wedding scheduled there May 7. If everything goes according to plan, the marriage will mark the 180-year-old building's official reincarnation as an events venue.
The house was built in 1837 and was originally the private residence of Dr. John Drish. Since then, it has served as a public school, an auto parts store and the sanctuary of a Baptist church. It has been famously shot by two celebrated American art photographers and remains the subject of several of Tuscaloosa's most repeated ghost stories. It was nearly demolished in 2007, sold to Nika McCool in 2014 and added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 2015. Now, after extensive renovations inside and out, the Drish House is set to soon open its doors to the public once more.
McCool, a Mountain Brook resident who owns and operates Past Horizons LLC, said she bought the vacant building from the Tuscaloosa County Preservation Society in 2014 after Southside Baptist Church deeded the property to the society instead of demolishing the antebellum house in 2007.
She partnered with builder and renovator Jeffery Harless and Vikki Grodner, a marketing and events coordinator who is also a certified interior designer. The trio is working feverishly to finish the restoration of the Drish House in the next two months.
There's a lot of work to be done. McCool and Harless have contractors knocking down walls, pulling up floors, adding the building's first indoor plumbing and more. The project also faces a number of challenges, including exact guidelines from the U.S. Department of the Interior for renovating historic buildings, city codes requiring modern safety features and the pressure of a May deadline.
"Generally in construction, there's a process -- you get an HVAC man in, then you get a plumber, then an electrician. On this house, everyone's got to work together, to be on top of each other," Harless said. "That can be done, you just have to have people willing to work together, because everyone's got the same goal in the end: to have the house open, to do a good job, to be proud of what we do here."
In spite of the obstacles they face, McCool, Harless and Grodner aim to preserve as much of the house's history as possible. The original trim around doors and windows will remain, as will much of the original plaster and masonry and even a baptismal dug by the church into the first floor parlor.
Where possible, parts of the home that can't be renovated are being repurposed and kept in the building. Grodner said some of the house's doors are being converted into tables. An antique piano will be lined with metal and turned into a drink cooler. Scraps of hardwood and other salvaged material will be made into vanities for the venue's bathrooms.
"Our goal is to do as many things as we can to maintain historical integrity while still creating a modern venue," Grodner said.
McCool echoed the need to modernize not only the Drish House itself, but also its function in the community.
Renovation projects "can't all be museums if you want to save more than one per town," she said. "We have to find a place for them in the modern economy, in the modern world."
McCool and Grodner envision the house becoming one of the city's premiere event venues and already have plans to use the space for weddings, art exhibit openings and "Drish-branded" events, such as as Drish After Dark, a charity ball planned for this Halloween.
For now, Grodner said the venue is easiest to "sell" to clients with an appreciation for its history and the imagination to picture what's to come.
"To come into a place like this, as it is now, you have to have the vision. For people who do, who love this sort of feel, this venue is easy to book," she said. "For others, they've come and they've looked at it and said, 'Man, we love this but we need to come back in a month or two."
For those who still need convincing, Grodner is offering hard-hat tours of the house in March and April to anyone looking to book the venue. Interested parties can email her at vikki@thegrodnergroup.com.
Stephen Dethrage can be reached at stephen.dethrage@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0227.
32818
February 29th, 2016
Kentuck to host photography exhibit - The Kentuck Art Center will host an exhibit of new photographs by Chip Cooper, artist in residence at the University of Alabama's Honors College.
The opening reception and artist talk will be from 5-8 p.m. on Thursday at the Kentuck Art Center in downtown Northport. The display of photographs, titled “Familiarity,” will be open to the public Thursady through March 31.
Since March of 2014, Cooper has been visiting artist in residence of Fototeca de Cuba. He was invited to the Vatican and the Holy See by the Cuban Embassy to exhibit his Campesinos collection for the 80th anniversary of the diplomatic relationships between the two countries.
32817
February 29th, 2016
Shelton State singers to perform March 1 - The Shelton State Community College Singers will present their spring showcase on at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Bean-Brown Theatre on Shelton State Community College’s Martin Campus. The showcase will feature musical theater selections from the last six decades.
Glinda Blackshear, the group’s longtime director, said, “The combination of choral medleys and solo numbers gives opportunities to all our singers and makes for a very entertaining evening for the audience.”
Admission for the showcase is free, and the public is invited to attend.
For more information, visit sheltonstate.edu. Shelton State is at 9500 Old Greensboro Road.
32816
February 29th, 2016
Canstruction Jr. exhibit is this week - Works created by Tuscaloosa City Schools' students will be on display this week at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center during the the third annual Canstruction Jr. event.
The event will include 17 school teams that created large sculptures made from canned food items.
The creations will be on display Tuesday through Saturday at the center, 612 Greensboro Ave.
On Friday, there will be a public reception from 5-8 p.m. and awards ceremony at 5:45, also at the Dinah Washington Cultural Arts Center.
After the exhibit, the canned food will be donated to the West Alabama Food Bank.
32815
February 29th, 2016
Malcom Epps commits to UA - The University of Alabama hosted an elite Junior Day on Saturday with several top prospects in the 2017 and 2018 recruiting classes. Malcolm Epps, 2018 tight end from Dekaney High School in Spring, Texas, was among the visitors.
Epps received an offer from the Tide a week prior to the weekend visit. The 6-foot-6, 217-pound prospect committed to Alabama during Junior Day.
"To me it felt like one of the best programs in the country," said Epps. "I thought about (committing) when I got there. This was my first time visiting Alabama. I really like how they take care of their athletes. They make sure they graduate, too. It's a beautiful campus. I loved all of the buildings. I really like the academic center and how it's structured. They are at the top of the food chain. It doesn't get any better than Bama."
Epps is the second commitment for Alabama in the 2018 class joining Dare Rosenthal, offensive tackle from Ferriday High School in La.
Andrew Bone is the senior recruiting analyst for TideSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @AndrewJBone.
32814
February 28th, 2016
Annual breakfast fundraiser boost children's charities - Members of the Kiwanis Club of Tuscaloosa will keep the batter coming as more people file in for an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast for $5.
The organization’s 39th annual Pancake Day will be held in the cafeteria at Central High School, 905 15th St., from 6 a.m. until noon on Saturday, and the pancakes will be made as people go through the line so the flapjacks will be hot and fresh for the eating.
The $5 ticket will get you all the pancakes, sausage, coffee, milk and soft drinks you can stomach.
“This is the annual fundraiser that we use to raise money for all of our service activities we do throughout the year,” said Betty Whisenant, the club’s president. “It’s our major fundraiser in order to raise funds for servicing the children of West Alabama and the world.”
Whisenant said the organization is all about helping children.
The club supports the annual Tuscaloosa County spelling bee, Special Olympics, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, and other programs in the area.
It also sponsors the Circle K Clubs at the University of Alabama and Shelton Shelton State Community College and the Key Clubs at local high schools.
But the organization focuses on its Reading is Fundamental program. It buys educational books that have to do with counting or ABCs and disperses about three books each year to about 300 Tuscaloosa County Head Start students after members of the club read them aloud to the class.
Pancake Day draws thousands of people each year to help fund these programs.
32813
February 28th, 2016
Tuscaloosa City Council Agenda: February 29 - The Tuscaloosa City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 2201 University Blvd. The following items will be on the agenda:
- Authorizing execution of Requisitions 567-568 for payment from the Series 2007A Warrant Issue; total: $30,800.
- Authorizing the filing of a lien at 904 29th St. pursuant to Section 13-69(b) and Section 11-47-140, Code of Alabama, 1975; total: $190.
- Authorizing the settlement of the worker’s compensation claim of Phillip Allen Roach; total: $1,692.20.
- Authorizing utility account credits; total: $5,707.40.
- Authorizing an adjustment and refund of excess deposit to Amason and Associates for installation of water mains and services for the new UA Kappa Alpha Fraternity fire line; total: $540.30.
- Authorizing payment to Cincinnati Insurance Corp.; total: $1,000.
- Approving the ABC application of Teresa Zambrano Investments LLC for restaurant retail liquor and on-premises retail beer licenses at El Rincon Latino Bar and Grill, 1223 University Blvd., 35401.
- Approving the ABC application of VIP Good Times LLC for restaurant retail liquor and on-premises retail beer licenses at VIP Good Times, 1735 Culver Road, 35401.
- Approving the ABC application of Rice Mine Holdings LLC for restaurant retail liquor and on-premises retail beer licenses at River, 1650 Jack Warner Pkwy., Unit 1005, 35401.
- Authorizing execution of an underground utility service easement to Alabama Power Co. for additional lighting at the Snow Hinton Park Pavilion.
- Accepting street paving, curb and gutter, striping, road grading, sanitary sewer, water main and storm sewer structures located within Woodsquare Subdivision.
- Accepting streets, curb and gutter, sidewalks, storm sewer and sanitary sewer structures in the Townes of North River Phases 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 and 13.
- Accepting streets, curb and gutter, storm sewer and sanitary sewer structures in Rosedale Court Phase II.
- Accepting streets, curb and gutter, storm sewer, sanitary sewer, traffic signal, retaining walls and water main structures in Northbank Phase I.
- Accepting streets, curb and gutter, storm sewer and sanitary sewer structures in Riverchase No. 11 (Sections 1, 2, 3 and 4).
- Accepting streets, curb and gutter, sidewalks, storm sewer and sanitary sewer structures in Riverfront Village.
- Amending the resolution authorizing change order no. 1 for Kennedy Park Sanitary Sewer Improvements; deductive total: $98,618.65.
Authorizing the Fire Chief to register a trademark.
- Authorizing the mayor to execute Greek Week 2016 Grant application; total: $5,000.
- Adopting amendment no. 16 to the budget for the Public Works Capital Fund.
- Authorizing the mayor to execute an agreement with the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama; total: $145,840.00.
- Authorizing the Mayor to execute an appraisal contract regarding potential drainage flood mitigation buyout at 4131 Brookhill Road; total: $450.
- Tentatively awarding a public works contract for Green Grove/Colonial Hills/Altamont Water Main Upgrade Project; total: $358,858.99.
- Awarding bid for the Tuscaloosa City Hall Data Center Server Protection Project to Taylor Electrical Contractors; total: $25,000.
- Awarding bid for the Cured in Place Sanitary Sewer Liner College Park Sewer Repair Project to BLD Services, LLC; total: $42,420.
- Tentatively awarding a public works contract for the 2016 Claymont Lining Project to Suncoast Infrastructure Inc.; total: $91,952.
- Authorizing the mayor to execute a master agreement and task order directive No. 1 for engineering and related services for the Rollingwood Sanitary Sewer Repair Project; total: not to exceed $29,375.
- Authorizing the mayor to execute an agreement with the Tuscaloosa Tourism and Sports Commission regarding USAT support.
- Granting a non-exclusive right-of-way use agreement to Southern Light LLC for the purpose of constructing and maintaining a fiber-optic transmission line within certain public rights-of-way within the city of Tuscaloosa.
- Authorizing the payment of bills; total: $888.09.
32812
February 28th, 2016
Peyton Grantham drives in four, Leona Lafaele walks off in 6-5 win over Tennessee - Alabama softball coach Patrick Murphy waited on the third-base line for Peyton Grantham to run 60 feet to score No. 4 Alabama’s winning run against No. 14 Tennessee.
Grantham had tied the game on a two-out double in the bottom of the seventh and advanced to third on an error.
The redshirt sophomore is the ideal three-hole hitter. On Sunday, she was responsible for four RBIs in the win, starting with a three-run home run in the first inning. She drove in one with her seventh-inning double and the game-tying run came off an error.
“We talked about the three-hole being a run producer, RBI driving in and getting the key hits,” Murphy said. “We really haven’t had much of it until today. Afterwards I said, ‘If anybody wants to know what I want out of the three-hole, it was today.’ ”
It was senior first baseman Leona Lafaele who won the game. She hit a single into right-center to score Grantham from third and secure the walk-off.
“I was just so excited for her,” Grantham said. “She’s one of the hardest workers on the team. Like you come in here an hour, hour and a half after practice, and she’s still out working and to see her hard work pay off, that’s so awesome and I’m so proud for her.”
After Grantham scored, the team mobbed Lafaele between first and second.
“They’re fun to coach 'cause I don’t think they ever give up,” Murphy said. “They’re very resilient, they’re very gritty. They stay together in the dugout. The energy was really good.”
Sophomore right-hander Alexis Osorio (5-0) earned the win after seven innings pitched. She allowed nine hits, including two home runs. She walked three and struck out nine.
“(Pitching coach) Steph (VanBrakle) talks about winning with your C-plus game versus somebody’s A game,” Murphy said. “And their reliever (right-hander Matty Moss) did a nice job. She’s a freshman, came in and shut us out for five innings. But I think Lexi, she wasn’t getting much on the outside corners to the lefties so she had to come in a little bit.”
She left a couple of balls in the zone, leading to the home runs. All five runs were earned.
“Today it was the hitters picking her up because she’s usually the one picking us up,” Murphy said. “It goes both ways.”
Alabama had seven hits, three of which came in the seventh inning. Sophomore transfer Sydney Booker led things off for Alabama in the seventh. She was hit by a pitch. Senior center fielder Haylie McCleney was walked following a popup. Sophomore infielder Demi Turner singled into left, but Booker was called out on a close play at third for the second out of the inning. Grantham’s two-run double was the next at-bat.
The Crimson Tide finished the Easton Bama Bash 4-0. Grantham had a team-leading nine RBIs. Lafaele led the team, hitting .455 (5-11) with a home run and five RBIs.
In Sunday’s first game, No. 15 Arizona beat Marshall 6-3.
Alabama (15-1) heads to Jacksonville State (7-7) on Wednesday for a 5 p.m. matchup.
32811
February 28th, 2016
LOOKING BACK: February 29 - - Six black people qualified to run in the May 3 Democratic primary for office in Greene County. They included the Rev. T.E. Gilmore, a civil rights worker who qualified to run against incumbent W.E. Lee for sheriff. Other black candidates were Percy McShan, who qualified to run for tax assessor; Mrs. Alberta Branch, for tax collector; the Rev. W.D. Lewis, who qualified to run for a seat on the county Democratic Executive Committee; and the Rev. P.J. Kirksey and Martin L. Goodson, who qualified to run for a seat on the county board of education.
- Trustees of Druid City Hospital issued a point-by-point denial of charges by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights that the hospital still practiced racial discrimination and was therefore not in compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
- Druid City Hospital Administrator D.O. McClusky said no elective medical patients would be admitted to the hospital until further notice. The hospital was equipped to handle 355 patients, but had 382; some spent the night in hallways in the emergency room.
- An application for federal aid to construct the proposed North River reservoir was delivered to the Housing and Urban Development office in Atlanta by Tuscaloosa Mayor George Van Tassel.
- Sixth-grader Larry Joe White of the Seventeenth Street Elementary School was first runner-up in a national Space Talk Cape Kennedy Contest. He received a $25 savings bond as an award for being selected as one of the nation’s 18 finalists. The Tuscaloosa News matched that award and the World Book Science Service awarded the boy a $75 savings bond.
- A federal grand jury indicted seven alleged members of the Ku Klux Klan, including Imperial Wizard Robert M. Shelton of Tuscaloosa, on charges of contempt of Congress.
- The Tuscaloosa City Commission adopted an ordinance regulating parking of vehicles on the streets, prohibiting parking on sidewalks and prohibiting display of merchandise on sidewalks.
- One of four carnival workers sentenced to die in the electric chair for the murder of Leonard Culpepper in Sumter County, Harold Leon Edwards, had his murder conviction reversed and remanded by the State Supreme Court, saying that comments by another of the men connecting Edwards with the murder were prejudicial.
- The Aliceville area in Pickens County, seemingly plagued with tornadoes, was struck by its fifth twister since 1938. Only a year before, on Feb. 11, 1965, a twister inflicted the highest property damage of any of the previous tornadoes, with damage estimated at $400,000 with 50 homes being destroyed.
- Cpl. Melvin Callahan, a 1964 graduate of Holt High, was awarded the Silver Star medal for “gallantry and intrepidity in action.” Callahan was serving in Vietnam.
- Dr. J.S. Tarwater, director of the Alabama Department of Mental Health, received the Medical Association of the state of Alabama’s first William Sanders Award for public health contributions.
- The bulging pocketbooks of professional football held no lure for Alabama coach Paul W. “Bear” Bryant. “The pros do a terrific job, but they never interested me,” he said. “I’d much rather coach the unfinished product. My biggest kick in this business is taking a boy not blessed with ability and watching him develop, through dedication and hard work, into a winning player. The pros can’t give that to me.”
- Prosecutors were expected to file a motion asking for a mental evaluation of the man charged with murdering , Father Francis Craven, a Roman Catholic priest, in 1989. Attorneys for the man, however, said their client had declined to raise the issue of his mental competency, and refused to enter a plea of not guilty by reason of mental deficiency as a defense to the murder charge.
- Gov. Guy Hunt appointed Robert V. “Bobby” Wooldridge III to fill the position of Tuscaloosa County circuit judge left vacant by the retirement of Jerry B. Baird. Wooldridge’s father was serving as Tuscaloosa City municipal court judge at that time.
- War in the Middle East and hard times in the automotive industry caused two major Fayette industries to lay off workers. Lanier Clothing Inc., a military dress uniform manufacturer, planned to lay off about 260 workers; Arvin Industries, an automotive exhaust system maker, laid off about 60 workers.
- Northport City Council President Harvey Fretwell presented a motion to allow workers Good Friday off this year since it was swapped the previous year for a Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. The motion was passed. Fretwell said he hoped steps would be taken to make the holiday a permanent one for city workers.
- A reception honored Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Charley Freeman for his efforts in the establishment of the Tuscaloosa Worthless Check Unit. Since its inception in January 1985, the worthless check unit had been responsible for the collection and restitution of more than $2.2 million.
- Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputy Keith Hamner was awarded the National Sheriff’s Association’s Medal of Valor for his role in preventing a fellow deputy from being stabbed during an altercation.
- The Tuscaloosa City Council passed a moratorium on new electronic billboards for 120 days while city staff members studied whether the signs complied with the city’s billboard ordinance.
- Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Mellown would be living in Coaling under contract to the town. Sheriff Ted Sexton said Coaling was the first incorporated town in the county to take advantage of legislation passed about five years before allowing sheriff deputies to work in communities on a contract basis.
- Former Northport City Councilman Robert Thomas would run for Tuscaloosa County circuit clerk.
- A high-stakes primary was shaping up in the race for Tuscaloosa County probate judge. Hardy McCollum, who was in his 30th year in the position, faced Democratic opposition from David Gay in the primary. On the Republican side, County Commissioner Don Wallace had announced his candidacy and Tuscaloosa City Councilman Joe Powell said he also planned to seek the GOP nomination.
- Fayette County officials pondered the fate of its courthouse that was damaged by the remnants of Hurricane Katrina. Water flowed through improperly installed windows ruining wallboard inside the courtroom. The courthouse had been renovated only five years before.
- After five days of testimony, theft charges against two ex-Shelton State Community College officials were dropped. The two officials had been charged with theft and theft by deception in an alleged scheme to use about $160,000 of state money to pay for construction of a presidential home.
- Gary Minor was selected to replace retiring Tuscaloosa Park and Recreation Authority director Don Kelly.
- The Tuscaloosa City Council added no new restrictions to the referendum allowing Sunday alcohol sales. Bars, restaurants and stores would all be allowed to sell alcohol from noon to 9:30 p.m.
- Deaths this week included Larry ‘Dude’ Hennessey at 81. He was a longtime assistant coach to Paul W. 'Bear' Bryant. Also, former Tuscaloosa City Councilman James Docker died at 81.
- The Northport City Council asked state Rep. Alan Harper to sponsor legislation to authorize a Sunday alcohol sales referendum in Northport. Without Sunday sales, it was feared that Northport businesses and the city government would lose revenue to Tuscaloosa and be at a competitive disadvantage with Tuscaloosa in economic development.
- Zelia Baugh, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health, announced that the W.D. Partlow Developmental Center would close. Partlow, which opened in 1919, had 484 employees who cared for 151 patients with intellectual disabilities.
- After a hotel quest decades in the making, the Embassy Suites was ready to open in downtown Tuscaloosa with its restaurant Side By Side.
- The new $3 million Tuscaloosa Tennis Center opened in Jaycee Park in Alberta with three indoor courts, a clubhouse, four outdoor hard courts and six outdoor clay courts.
- The Industrial Druid Alumni Association in partnership with the Tuscaloosa County NAACP would give a scholarship of $1,000 or more to a student-athlete at Central High School in honor of the school’s legendary coach Lue C. Mims Jr.
- A new Milo’s Original Burger Shop was under construction near the intersection of Skyland Boulevard and Alabama Highway 69. Tuscaloosa lost its Milo’s in the April 27, 2011, tornado.
- Voters overwhelmingly approved renewal of a property tax that had helped fund public education for the past 30 years.
- The Levee restaurant opened along the riverfront in Northport at the site of the old Wintzell’s.
Compiled by retired News librarian Betty Slowe.
32810
February 28th, 2016
Super Tuesday: What to look for at Alabama polls - MONTGOMERY — Alabama voters go to polls Tuesday as part of Super Tuesday contests in 12 states.
Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Donald Trump all plan stops in Alabama in a last-minute hunt for votes before Tuesday’s election.
Republicans and Democrats will also name their picks in congressional and state races. Here’s a look at what to watch for and a look at a few of the key races on Tuesday:
———
CONGRESS
On Tuesday, Rep. Martha Roby, R-Montgomery, faces tea party challenger Becky Gerritson in the second congressional district that includes Montgomery and the Wiregrass.
Roby is perhaps best known for being on the congressional panel investigating Benghazi and has been a vocal critic of delays and problems at Veterans’ Administration hospitals in the region. Roby said she shares voter frustration with “Washington doublespeak.”
“There are so many politicians out there that are so afraid of losing their jobs that they forget to do their jobs. My job is to listen to the people, study the issues, make decisions that are in the best interest of the people I represent and to be honest about it,” Roby said in an interview.
Gerritson is the founder of Wetumpka Tea Party, one of the state’s largest and most active tea party organizations. She appeared on the national radar with emotional congressional testimony in 2013 regarding Internal Revenue Service probes of conservative political groups.
“We need a true conservative in leadership for District 2,” Gerritson told voters at a campaign stop. “We see year after year, election after election, we are promised that things are going to change and they don’t,” Gerritson said.
In South Alabama, Rep. Bradley Byrne is in a rematch with Dean Young, the bombastic real estate developer he bested three years ago for the open congressional seat. Byrne has a heady mix of endorsements ranging from the NRA, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Sen. Jeff Sessions. Young is running an ad of clipped-together news segments from their last race. News commentators refer to Byrne as the “establishment” candidate eight times in the 30-second spot.
While any anti-establishment surge could hurt incumbents, challengers from the party’s far right, like Young and Gerritson, struggle under a compressed campaign season while facing opponents with superior name recognition and financial firepower.
Five-term Sen. Richard Shelby is running an aggressive campaign, unloading a portion of a $19 million war chest, as he looks to a sixth term in office in the midst of the insurgent voter mood. Shelby faces off with four lesser known challengers in the GOP primary, most notably Jonathan McConnell, a former Marine who now runs a ship security business putting former Marines on vessels.
———
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION PRESIDENT
One of the few statewide races on the ballot is the Republican primary for president of the Public Service Commission. The race pits incumbent Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh against former PSC member Terry Dunn.
———
BRING PHOTO ID
This will be the first presidential race under Alabama’s new photo identification requirement for voting. Alabama requires voters to show photo identification at the polls such as a driver’s license, passport, an Alabama non-driver ID, a university student ID or identification issued by the federal government.
A person without photo ID can submit a provisional ballot, but it won’t be counted unless they bring in the required identification.
———
TURN THE BALLOT OVER
Voters should remember to look on the back of the ballot. The presidential candidates and numerous delegates to party nominating conventions appear on the front of the ballot, while state and local offices are on the back.
32809
February 28th, 2016
Election 2016 | Alabama primary: Races from president to courthouse fill ballot - Alabama is one of 11 states hosting primary elections Tuesday in races from president to district attorney.
And, in some local races, Tuesday's vote is expected to settle the race.
In Tuscaloosa County, no Republican candidate qualified for the District 4 seat on the Tuscaloosa County Commission.
This race is expected to be decided during the Democratic primary or a possible run-off election in April. The race pits five-term incumbent Reginald Murray against two challengers, Gregelyn “Dolly” Cash Robertson and former Northport City Councilman Steve Webb.
Similarly, no Democrat candidate qualified to run for the District 6 seat on the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education, the Tuscaloosa County District Court Judge Place 2 seat or the District 2 seat on the Tuscaloosa County Commission.
Barring a write-in candidate, the Board of Education race likely will be decided between Republicans Joe Boteler, the incumbent, and challenger Randy Smalley.
The Place 2 district judge race could be settled on the GOP ballot where three candidates – Jim Gentry, Eddie Sherlock and Michael J. Upton – are vying to succeed Joel Chandler, who is retiring after serving on the bench since 1992.
District 2 County Commissioner Jerry Tingle faces opposition from two challengers: Wendy Abston Bush and Duane Garner.
In the Republican primary for Tuscaloosa County District Attorney, incumbent Lyn Head and challenger Hays Webb will square off for the chance to face the lone Democratic candidate, Dennis Steverson Sr. in November.
Outside of local races, the Republican primary is expected to settle the District 4 Congressional race between incumbent Rep. Robert Aderholt and challenger Phil Norris. No Democrat qualified for the race.
Four Republicans are seeking to unseat U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby from the seat he has held since 1987.
Shelby, of Tuscaloosa, is being challenged by Marcus Bowman, John Martin, Jonathan McConnell and Shadrack McGill for the GOP nomination.
The winner here will face the Democratic nominee. In that race, Ron Crumpton and Charles Nana are on the primary ballot.
In state and local primary races in which no candidate wins a majority, the top two finishers will face off in an April 12 run-off election to determine their party's nominee.

Most of Tuscaloosa County's 54 polling places are the same as they were during the mid-term elections two years ago, but a few have been moved.
Ward 6 voters will now cast ballots at Northside Lions Club, located at 13166 Northside Road.
Ward 38 voters will be at Cornerstone Baptist Church, located at 610 Brooksdale Drive.
Ward 44 voters will go to the Jerry Belk Activity Center at 2101 Bowers Park Drive.
And Ward 50 voters will be at the Vance Town Hall at 17710 Vance Municipal Drive.
For more information on polling places and where individuals across the county will be voting, visit www.alabamavotes.gov. and click the “My Polling Place” button in the middle-left of the page.

Voter registration picked up heavily in the first two weeks of February prior to the Feb. 12 deadline for those wishing to vote in Tuesday's primary.
Laural Bunn, chair of the Tuscaloosa County Board of Registrars, said about 4,000 voters registered or changed addresses during that 14-day span.
“That's a lot,” she said. “We had a big rush in registration.”
She attributed the increased interest to the presidential primaries.
“It seems to me that, every time a (presidential) candidate does or says something, it spurs them (voters) to come in to make sure their opinion counts,” Bunn said.
While this is Bunn's first presidential election as chair of the Board of Registrars, her turnout prediction lines up with seasoned election veteran Hardy McCollum.
McCullom as the county's probate judge has been the county's chief election official since 1977.
“I think we're going to have a pretty heavy turnout, particulary with the fact that we've got enough local races …, but presidential elections always generate our largest voter turnout,” he said.
He also noted that for this primary, there have been fewer absentee ballot applications than in years past.
That is likely due to the Alabama primary's being moved to earlier in the year. Until 2012, Alabama primaries were in June when many families were out of town on vacation.
While advancing the primary election has brought more attention to Alabama's votes, McCollum isn't so sure it's the best thing for the voter.
That's because a voter is also a taxpayer. And in races that are settled with the primary election, that gives about 10 months before the victor takes office in January 2017.
“From the local perspective, I don't like it being this early,” he said. “That doesn't serve our taxpayer well.”


Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
32808
February 28th, 2016
Election 2016: Election questions and answers - I TURNED IN A VOTER REGISTRATION APPLICATION. AM I REGISTERED TO VOTE?
Just because you turned in a voter registration application does not necessarily mean you are registered to vote. Once your application has been processed by your local board of registrars, you should receive an acknowledgement from the registrars indicating the status of your application. This acknowledgement will usually be a voter identification card confirming that you are registered to vote.
However, if your application was incomplete, you may receive a letter requesting additional information to complete your application. If you are unsure about the status of your application, you can always call the board of registrars and check.

IF IT’S THE DAY BEFORE THE ELECTION AND I FORGOT TO REGISTER TO VOTE, IS IT TOO LATE?
Yes, it is too late to register to vote for that election. To participate in an election, you must submit your application before registration closes for that election. Registration is closed during the 10 days prior to an election and on election day.

WHAT IF I MAKE A MISTAKE MARKING MY BALLOT?
If you have not already placed your ballot in the electronic voting machine or ballot box, you may ask a poll worker for another ballot. The poll worker will spoil your first ballot so that it cannot be counted or reused.

ARE CANDIDATES ALLOWED TO CAMPAIGN OUTSIDE MY POLLING PLACE?
Yes, electioneering or campaigning is permitted outside the polling place. However, this activity must not be closer than 30 feet to the entrance of the polling place. If the polling place is located in a room within a building, the campaigning must not be closer than 30 feet to the entrance of the building.

MAY A CANDIDATE ASSIST ME IN MARKING MY BALLOT?
Yes, if you ask the candidate to help you. The only people who may not assist a voter are the voter’s employer, an agent of the voter’s employer, or an officer or agent of the voter’s union.

MAY I CARRY A SAMPLE BALLOT INTO THE VOTING BOOTH?
Yes. However, you should not leave the sample ballot in the polling place.

MAY I WEAR CAMPAIGN BUTTONS OR T-SHIRTS WITH POLITICAL ADVERTISEMENTS INTO THE POLLING PLACE?
Yes. However, you should not loiter or leave any campaign materials in the polling place.

WHEN I VOTED IN THE PRIMARY ELECTION, I WAS ASKED TO DECLARE A POLITICAL PARTY PREFERENCE? WHY IS THAT?
In Alabama, the primary election is part of the nominating process for a political party. It is used to select who will represent a party in the general election. You are required to choose one political party’s primary over another because you cannot participate in the nomination of both parties’ candidates. However, in the general election, you may split your ticket and vote for candidates from each political party.

IF CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS ARE INCLUDED ON THE BALLOT, MUST I VOTE ON THEM?
No. You are not required to vote on constitutional amendments. Similarly, you are not required to vote in all contests on the ballot. Participation is your choice.

IN A PRIMARY ELECTION, AM I ALLOWED TO VOTE FOR THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS ONLY?
Yes. In fact, if you choose not to participate in nominating candidates for either political party, you can request a constitutional amendment ballot that contains only the proposed constitutional amendments.

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DO NOT WANT TO DECLARE A POLITICAL PARTY PREFERENCE AT THE PRIMARY ELECTION?
If you choose not to declare a political preference at the primary election, you will not be eligible to vote in any political party’s primary election. You are, however, still eligible to vote on any proposed constitutional amendments that are up for a vote.
32807
February 28th, 2016
Election 2016 | Polling information - The voter appears at the polling place and provides his or her name to a poll worker. The voter must also present an acceptable form of identification.
A poll worker checks the individual’s name against the list of registered voters for that precinct. If the voter has an “I” by his/her name, the voter needs to update voter registration information.
Before being allowed to vote, the voter must complete a Voter Update Form that is available at the polling place.
The voter signs a poll list. If the election is a party primary, the voter must state in which party primary he or she wishes to vote and then must sign that party’s poll list. The voter casts his or her vote.
Voting procedures vary according to the type of equipment used. For more specific information, look for instructions printed in large type that should be visible at each polling place. Also, poll workers will provide information on voting procedures, at the voter’s request. Poll workers are not allowed to tell a citizen for whom to vote or to attempt to influence a voter in any way.


WHEN A VOTER’S NAME IS NOT ON THE LIST OF VOTERS

If a person’s name does not appear on the list of registered voters for the polling place, the poll worker should contact the Board of Registrars to determine if the person is eligible to vote at that polling place. If the Board of Registrars is unable to verify the person’s voter registration, he or she may vote a provisional ballot.

WHEN A VOTER DOES NOT HAVE VALID IDENTIFICATION

A voter must present a valid form of identification to be eligible to vote. If the voter does not have proper identification, he or she may vote a provisional ballot.

VOTING A PROVISIONAL BALLOT

A provisional ballot is voted the same as any other ballot except the voter must sign an affidavit attesting to his or her eligibility to vote.
Name not on poll list: The provisional ballot will be counted only if the county Board of Registrars is able to confirm, after the election, that the person casting the ballot is a duly qualified elector of the county.
No ID at the poll place: When a voter casts a provisional ballot because he or she did not have proper identification at the polling place, the voter has until 5 p.m. on the Monday following the election to submit the ID to the Board of Registrars. If proper ID is submitted by this deadline, the ballot will be counted.
Absentee ballot never received or cast: A voter may cast a provisional ballot if he or she did not receive a requested absentee ballot or the voter did not vote the absentee ballot.


WHERE DO I VOTE?
The Board of Registrars sends a certificate of registration to all voters that includes the address of each voter’s polling place. A voter who has not received this card should contact the Board of Registrars for information on his or her polling place. The board’s office is in the Tuscaloosa County Courthouse Annex, 2501 Seventh St., or call 205-349-3870, ext. 415. Voters can also search their registration information or find their polling place online at myinfo.alabamavotes.gov

Alabama polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

E-mail: sos@sos.al.gov
On the Web: www.sos.alabama.gov

Office of the Secretary of State Elections and Voter Fraud Hotline: 800-274-8683

MARKED SAMPLE BALLOTS
Voters may take items such as marked sample ballots into the polling place provided these items are used personally and are not distributed to others in the polling place. Also, the voter should not leave these items in the polling place.

CAMPAIGNING ON ELECTION DAY
Campaigning is allowed on election day as long as it is done at least 30 feet from the door of the building in which the poll is located. If the polling place is located in a room within a building, the campaigning must not be closer than 30 feet to the entrance of the building.

VOTER ASSISTANCE
Any voter who wishes to have assistance is entitled to help. The voter may ask anyone (except his or her employer, an agent of the employer, or an officer or agent of the voter’s union) to give that assistance. If the voter does not request a specific individual, a poll worker may assist the voter at the request of the voter.

TIME IN THE BOOTH
A voter remaining in a voting machine booth (or in the polling place where paper ballots are used) for four minutes or longer may be asked by a poll worker if assistance is needed.
IF THE VOTER DOES NOT WANT ASSISTANCE, he or she is permitted to remain for one additional minute. At the end of that minute, if individuals are waiting to vote, the voter may be informed that time is up and may be asked to leave. If there is no line, the voter may have as much time as necessary to finish voting.
IF THE VOTER WANTS ASSISTANCE, he or she may have no less than an additional five minutes to vote. At the end of the time, if others are waiting to vote, the assisted voter may be told that time is up and may be asked to leave the polling place. However, if there are no voters waiting, the assisted voter shall have as much time as necessary to finish voting.

ACCESSIBILITY
Polling places should be accessible to people with disabilities. At every polling place there will be voting equipment to accommodate voters with disabilities so that they can vote without assistance. If your specific disability is not accommodated, please contact your county’s probate judge.
32806
February 28th, 2016
Election 2016 | Tuscaloosa County Polling Places - Ward; Location; Address

01; Whitson Place Church of Christ; 13231 Brandon School Road

02; Windham Springs Baptist Church 20105 Alabama Highway 69 N

03; Sheriff’s Office Firing Range 22794 P&M Mining Road

04; Mayfield VFD Fire Station; 19572 Alabama Highway 171

05; Montgomery VFD Fire Station; 16780 Mormon Road

06; Northside Lions Club; 13166 Northside Road

07; County Road Camp No. 3; 17504 Finnell Road

08; Carroll’s Creek VFD, Station 2; 11604 Stonehedge Road

09; Yellow Creek VFD Fire Station; 10722 Watermelon Road

10; Kellerman Antioch Baptist Church; 15755 Lock 17 Road

11; Tannehill Valley Baptist Church; 12858 Tannehill Parkway

12; Lakeview Baptist Church; 21138 Mountain View Circle

13; Abernant Baptist Church; 13646 Lodge Road

14; G.G. Hardin Community Center; 15689 Alabama Highway 216

15; Mary Ann Phelps Activity Center; 2200 Rock Quarry Drive

16; Carroll’s Creek Baptist Church; 14247 Alabama Highway 69 N

17; Chapel Hill Baptist Church; 8790 U.S. Highway 43 N

18; Echola VFD Fire Station; 14908 Echola Road

19; Mount Olive VFD Fire Station; 13322 Mount Olive Road

20; Flatwoods Baptist Church; 4520 70th Ave., Northport

21; Northport City Hall; 3500 McFarland Blvd.

22; Vestavia Hills Elementary School; 1150 Vestavia Circle, Northport

23; Tuscaloosa Academy; 420 Rice Valley Road N

24; Holt Elementary School; 1001 Crescent Ridge Road NE

25; Peterson Community Church; 8709 Old Birmingham Highway

26; Jaycee Park (Boys & Girls Club); 830 21st Ave. E

27; Univ. of Ala. Student Rec. Center; 401 Fifth Ave. E

28; Tusc. County Courthouse Annex; 2501 Seventh St.

29; Sprayberry Regional Ed. Center; 1324 Rice Mine Road

30; Northport Community Center; 2100 Park St.

31; Coker VFD Fire Station; 14600 Highway 140

32; Buhl VFD Station; 11965 Sipsey Valley Road N

33; Elrod VFD Station; 11789 Malone Creek Road

34; Romulus VFD, Station 1; 16500 Romulus Road

35; Unity Baptist Church; 6622 Unity Road

36; Stillman College (Hay Center); 3601 Stillman Blvd.

37; McDonald Hughes Community Ctr.; 3101 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

38; Cornerstone Baptist Church; 610 Brooksdale Drive

39; Forest Lake Methodist Church; 1711 Fourth Ave.

40; University Mall; 1701 McFarland Blvd. E

41; Leroy McAbee Activity Center; 3801 Loop Road

42; Cottondale Community Church; 1801 Prude Mill Road

43; Cottondale Methodist Church; 2225 Buttermilk Road

44; Jerry Belk Activity Center; 2101 Bowers Park Drive

45; Skyland Elementary School; 408 Skyland Blvd. E

46; Old Rex Appliance Building; 4730 McFarland Blvd. E

47; Bobby Miller Activity Center; 300 Bobby Miller Parkway

48; Duncanville Middle School; 11205 Eagle Parkway

49; Coaling Town Hall; 11281 Hagler Coaling Road, Coaling

50; Vance Town Hall; 17710 Vance Municipal Drive

51; Hagler Community Center; 15451 Hagler Coaling Road, Coaling

52; Big Sandy Baptist Church; 14611 Old Greensboro Road

53; Fosters VFD Fire Station; 14661 Gainesville Road

54; Ralph VFD Fire Station 17119 Ralph Loop Road
32805
February 28th, 2016
Election 2016 | Alabama Presidential Primary Party: Convention delegates will make for long ballot - Primary voters on Tuesday might find a longer-than-expected ballot when they get to the polls.
That’s because once they cast their vote for their party’s nominee for president, they will have the option of also picking people to be that candidate’s delegates at the party’s presidential nominating convention this summer.
Voters do not have to vote for delegates to assure their favored presidential candidate gets his or her proper share. The delegate allocation will be based on the percentage of votes the presidential candidate wins Tuesday.
So why are delegates listed on the ballot?
In some cases, more than one person pledged to a particular candidate filed for a particular delegate spot. If that candidate is allocated that delegate spot, the vote will determine who gets to be the delegate going to the national nominating convention.
Voters are being advised to vote only for delegates pledged to the candidate they voted for president.
Democratic Party rules require an equal number of men and women to be delegates. Democratic voters opting to pick delegates are being advised to follow the instructions on their ballots and vote for no more than a certain number of male and female delegates.
The Democratic primary lists four candidates for president -- Hillary Clinton, Roque "Rocky" De La Fiuente, Martin J. O'Malley and Bernie Sanders. O'Malley has ended his presidential campaign. Democratic voters also can vote uncommitted.
Republicans who wish to vote for delegates are being advised to vote only for delegates pledged to the candidate they picked for president.
The Republican primary ballot lists six candidates who are still in the race — Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, John R. Kasich, Marco Rubio and Donald J. Trump. The GOP ballot also lists six people who have ended their presidential campaigns -- Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Lindsey Graham, Mike Huckabee, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum. GOP voters also can vote uncommitted.
32804
February 28th, 2016
Pumping Iron: Nick Saban speaks at presentation of trophy to Iron Bowl winner - Nick Saban, University of Alabama football coach, spoke Saturday during the presentation of the Omicron Delta Kappa Trophy, which was made at center court during halftime of the Alabama-Auburn basketball game at Coleman Coliseum.
The trophy is presented by the ODK honor society each year to the winner of the Iron Bowl.
Alabama defeated Auburn, 29-13, on Nov. 28, 2015, in Auburn, keeping the trophy in Tuscaloosa for the second year in a row.
32803
February 28th, 2016
Registration is open for theater camp - Parents can register their children now for this summer's Theater Camp, presented by Theatre Tuscaloosa and the Tuscaloosa Children's Theatre.
The summer day camp from 8 a.m. until noon Mondays through Fridays, June 13-24 at the fine arts center on Shelton State Community College's Martin Campus.
Campers will learn acting, improvisation, singing, dancing and costume design. The camp is open to students who have completed kindergarten through those who have completed 11th grade.
Campers will be divided into five different age groups and will rotate through four different classes each day. A showcase will be held at the end of camp. Cost of registration is $262 for each camper and includes a camp shirt. Registration is limited to twenty campers per age group and operates on a first-come-first-served basis. Early registration is strongly encouraged.
Camp instructors are seasoned theater professionals.
To download the registration form, view class descriptions, and meet the instructors, visit www.theatretusc.com. For more information, call 205.391.2277.
32802
February 27th, 2016
Election 2016: Nine counties outside Tuscaloosa have local races - Voters will do more than just cast ballots for their parties’ presidential nominees in Tuesday’s primary election. They will help pick their party’s nominee for the U.S. Senate and other statewide races, too.

With the exception of the presidential vote, candidates will need to win a majority of the vote to be their party’s nominee. If no one has wins a majority, a run-off between the two top vote getters will be on April 12.

There also will be some local races on the primary ballot. Here is a breakdown on the local races in the nine West Alabama counties, excluding Tuscaloosa County.

Bibb County

Democratic voters will pick between Jana Russell Garner and Don McMillan for Circuit Judge Place 2, and between Jerome “Joe” Chism and Rodney Stabler in County Commission District 5.

Republican voters will help pick their party’s nominee for the State Board of Education District 3, choosing between Justin Barkley and Stephanie Bell. A race in for the County Commission also will see Sammy Holdsambeck and Walt Williams vying for the party’s nomination in District 3.

Fayette County

In County Commission District 6, James McAlpin and Big John Underwood are seeking the Democratic Party nomination.

The Republican primary will have several local contests.

Voters will help pick the GOP nominee for the State Board of Education in District 7. Candidates are Jim Bonner, Rhea Tays Fulmer and Jeff Newman.

There also is a race for circuit court judge in the 24th Judicial Circuit, Place 1, with Sam Junkin and Charles A. “Chuck’ Langley seeking the nomination. No Democrat qualified for the seat so the winner of the GOP primary will become the judge. The 24th Circuit includes Fayette, Lamar and Pickens counties.

GOP County Commission races will be between Rick Cargile and Shane Hughes in District 2; between James Knight and Troyce R.Townsel in District 4; and among William E. Brand, Rusty Jones and Joe M. Lay in District 5. There are no Democratic candidates in those districts so the GOP winners will hold the commission seats, although a run-off could occur in District 5 if none of the candidates wins a majority on Tuesday.

Greene County

There are no local races in the Republican primary and no Republicans qualified for local offices up for election this year. That means the winners of the Democratic primary or possible Democratic run-off will take office following the general election in November.

There are three local contests in the Democratic primary.

Gregory S. Griggers and Barrown Lankster are running for district attorney.

Kiasha Underwood Lavender faces Carol Prejean Zippert for a seat on the county board of education in District 1.

And in the board of education’s District 2, five Democrats are running -- Kashaya Cockrell, Robert “Coach” Kimbrough, Brandon R. Meriwether, Latoya “Mi Mi” Pelt, Madylen Thomas. If no one wins a majority, the top two finishers will face each other in a run-off.

Hale County

No Republicans filed for office so the Democratic primary will determine who will hold office during the next term.

There are five local contests in the Democratic primary .

Jana Russell Garner and Don McMillan face off in the race for circuit court judge in the Fourth Judicial Circuit.

In the district attorney’s race, Michael Jackson faces Faya (Rose Sanders) Toure.

Three candidates are running for the County Board of Education, District 3 seat – Regina Anderson Fields, Verlander L. Jones and Ada Webb.

For the county commission, there is a race in District 2 between Donald Ray Anderson Jr. and Willie C. Fields, and in District 3, Joe Lee Hamilton Jr. faces Haywood (Woody) F. Stokes III.

Lamar County

There is a Democratic primary in District 2 of the county commission where Mitchell Puckett faces Rodney Sizemore.

On the Republican side, U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, whose congressional district includes the county, is being challenged by Phil Norris.

District 7 of the State Board of Education, which also includes the county, has a GOP primary race with three candidates -- Jim Bonner, Rhea Tays Fulmer and Jeff Newman.

In the race for circuit court judge in the 24th Judicial Circuit Place One, which covers Lamar, Pickens and Fayette counties, Republicans Sam Junkin and Charles A. “Chuck” Langley face each other.

In the race for superintendent of the county board of education, Vance Herron and Garth Moss are running on the GOP side.

Marengo County

There are three local races in the Democratic primary.

In the State Board of Education District 5, which includes the county, Ella B. Bell faces Joanne Shum.

In the district attorney 17th Judicial Circuit race, Gregory S. Griggers and Barrown Lakster are running.

In District 3 of the County Board of Education, Clifton McKnight faces Rayvell Smith.

Perry County

There are no local races in the Republican primary.

On the Democratic side, Ella B. Bell and Joanne Shum are running for the State Board of Education District 5 seat, which includes Perry County.

In the race for circuit court judge, Fourth Judicial Circuit, Place 2, Jana Russell Garner faes Don McMillan.

And there is a race between Michael Jackson and Faya (Rose Sanders) Toure for district attorney for the Fourth Judicial Circuit.

Pickens County

In the Democratic primary, there is a race for superintendent of the county board of education with Travis Bailey facing Jamie Chapman.

On the Republican side, Sam Junkin and Charles A. “Chuck” Langley are running for circuit court judge in the 24th Judicial Circuit.

Sumter County

There are no local races on the Republican side but the Democrats have four local races on the primary ballot.

The county is part of the State Board of Education District 5 in which Ella B. Bell faces Joanne Shum.

In the district attorney 17th Judicial Circuit race, Gregory S. Griggers and Barrown Lakster face off.

And in the Sumter County Board of Education, there are two primary races. In District 1, Daisybelle Thomas-Quinney faces Lillian Ann Wideman, and in District 2, Tommie L. Campbell faces Danyale S. Jones.

32801
February 27th, 2016
Longtime University of Alabama board of trustees secretary retires - The secretary of the University of Alabama System board of trustees is retiring following a 35-year career of public service in the state, including 12 years with the board.

“It has been a privilege to serve the citizens of Alabama in a variety of roles over these many years,” secretary Michael Bownes said in a statement released by the system.

The system announced Bownes’ retirement on Friday. The board is expected to name an acting secretary in the near future, according to the statement. The trustees next scheduled meeting is in April in Huntsville.

“Michael’s keen legal perspective and his dedication to our board of trustees as well as our students, faculty and staff have been a valuable asset. We congratulate him on his outstanding accomplishments and thank him for his service. His retirement is very well deserved,” said Karen P. Brooks, president pro tempore of the board.

Bownes has served as secretary and executive assistant to the chancellor since 2004. Bownes is also deputy general counsel for the system and a member of Chancellor Robert Witt’s senior administrative team.

Bownes was general counsel to the Alabama Insurance Department from 1988 until 2004. He also previously served as the director of the Alabama Attorney General’s Office of Consumer Protection and the Criminal Appeals Division of the Attorney General’s Office

32800
February 27th, 2016
Grocery store developer seeks tax abatement - City leaders want two more weeks before making a decision on an economic incentive request from a grocery store developer.

Birmingham-based Map Development is seeking tax abatements of up to $2.35 million in the form of a 50-50 split of the city’s 2.25 percent sales tax that would be collected at the store.

The company wants the financial assistance to offset the costs of purchasing Patriot Parkway, a private road owned by Tuscaloosa developer Stan Pate, which it claims is needed to complete the project.

This road is needed to ensure the development has adequate, public access, officials said.

To ensure this, Map Development will convey the street to the city of Tuscaloosa. Doing so also will open up about 31 additional acres to development.

"I believe it would be in the city's best interest to do this," Mayor Walt Maddox said to the council’s finance committee on Tuesday.

With the city’s reliance on sales taxes as its main source of revenue, granting the incentives would prove to be in the city’s long-term financial best interest, he said.

“I fear if we let this opportunity go by, it could be years before an opportunity like this presents itself again,” Maddox said.

Map Development is planning a new grocery store for a 5.72-acre tract on the northwest corner of Alabama Highway 69 and Patriot Parkway. It has been described a 42,000-square-foot grocery store – featuring a deli, bakery, produce department and pharmacy -- along with an exterior fuel station out front.

Company officials have said the overall investment in the development is expected to be about $10 million and, once completed, the store should employ about 95 full- and part-time workers while generating about $7 million sales its first year.

While the name of the grocer officially has not been revealed, Map Development is the same company that built the Walmart Neighborhood Market near the intersection of Skyland Boulevard and Hargrove Road East.

When that project was announced in late 2014, it also was described as a 41,000-square-foot grocery with a pharmacy drive-through window and a six-pump gasoline island.

But Maddox and officials with the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama, which also supports the incentive request, maintain that their support is not for the benefit of a Walmart.

“That played no role in our thought process,” Maddox said.

Rather, it’s for a gaining ownership of a now private street that will help spur future economic growth, he said.

A new grocery store would be a benefit, according to the chamber of commerce. Officials said last month that the Walmart brand is strong enough to lure other retailers to the area.

Others, however, remain unconvinced.

A representative of Trade Mart convenience stores told council members that Walmart’s fuel is priced dangerously close to “predatory pricing,” the practice of selling goods at such a low price that competitors are driven from the market.

And representatives of the Englewood Village shopping center, where Winn-Dixie on Alabama Highway 69 is located, said the area already has enough grocery stores – Publix and Vowell’s Fresh Market also operate nearby – and assisting Map Development would give Walmart an unfair advantage.

Pate, who said he wants almost $2 million for his road, said the City Council’s decision is simple. Does it want to see this development – and any future development – fall within the county’s jurisdiction or does it want the city to reap the sales tax benefits.

The tract on which the new grocery store will be constructed already has been annexed into the city. Nearby tracts, however, have not.

Pate also pointed out that his past attempts to have Patriot Parkway and the surrounding land annexed into the city, which would have eliminated this issue now before the council, were rebuffed time and again by previous council members.

Until now, Pate said trying to get the land annexed into the Tuscaloosa city limit was “an absolutely frustrating process.”

But with or without the incentive agreement, Pate said the development will go forward.

"This project will be built — built in the city or built in the county – and I've shown that I've wanted it built in the city for some time now,” Pate said. “And I intend to get at least the full cost of that road.”



Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.

32799
February 27th, 2016
LEND A HAND: West Alabama chapter recognizes everyday heroes in March - The American Red Cross is recognizing the country’s everyday heroes in March during Red Cross Month.

“Our community is full of everyday heroes who help others in need,” said Beakie Powell, executive director, the West Alabama chapter of the American Red Cross. “They are our selfless Red Cross volunteers, blood donors, and financial contributors who bring help to people facing life’s emergencies. During Red Cross Month, we thank them for their tremendous support.”

March has been recognized as Red Cross Month for more than 70 years. All of the U.S. presidents, including President Barack Obama, have designated March as Red Cross Month to recognize how the American Red Cross helps people across the country and around the world.

The Red Cross depends on local heroes to fulfill its mission. The Red Cross responds to a community disaster every eight minutes, providing shelter, food, emotional support and other necessities to those affected. It provides 24-hour support to members of the military, veterans and their families at home and around the world. It must collect 14,000 units of blood everyday to fulfill the country’s needs. It trains millions of people in first aid, water safety and other lifesaving skills. And it supports the vaccination of children around the globe against measles and rubella.

Since July, the West Alabama chapter responded to 181 local emergencies, assisted 228 military families and trained 1,230 people in lifesaving skills. And, people from this area donated 1,864 units of blood.

“It’s easy to become a Red Cross community hero,” Powell said. “Be ready for an emergency by creating a preparedness plan for your home. Test your smoke detectors and tell your neighbors to do the same. Or sign up to be a Red Cross volunteer, or make a financial donation.”

People can find more information about supporting the Red Cross on redcross.org. The Red Cross is not a government agency and relies on donations of time, money and blood to do its work. An average of 91 cents of every dollar the Red Cross spends is invested in humanitarian services and programs.

The West Alabama chapter of the Red Cross is at 1622 Lurleen Wallace Blvd. in Northport. Call 758-3608 for more information.

32798
February 27th, 2016
Severe weather preparedness tax holiday ends - Alabama's fifth annual Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday and ends at 11:59 p.m. today. Shoppers can buy batteries, tarps, cellphone chargers and more free of Alabama's 4 percent state sales tax.

Tuscaloosa, Northport and every central western Alabama county except Hale are participating and will waive local taxes as well during the three-day event.

32797
February 27th, 2016
Columnist to speak in Tuscaloosa - 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.

32796
February 27th, 2016
In a glaze of glory - Editor's Note: The Tuscaloosa News' intern Lauren Lane decided to accept the Krispy Kreme Challenge, held Saturday morning at Government Plaza in downtown Tuscaloosa. Here's Lane's first-person account as she joined hundreds of competitors in the challenge, which is a fundraiser for Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama.

I've always been a runner, but I've never liked to compete. I'm content with my 4 miles and never wanted to push my limits. I run to relax, never to try to win something. But then I stumbled upon the Krispy Kreme Challenge. In Tuscaloosa, it's an annual event where friends, teams, first responders and families run or walk 2 miles together and get free doughnuts. What better way to spend a Saturday morning could there be?
I arrived early Saturday morning to scope out the competition and saw teams dressed as superheroes, country singers, and even a "Shrek" family. I wasn't too intimidated as most of the participants looked like they were just here to have fun.
“I just thought it would be something really fun to do to support the community and Big Brothers Big Sisters,” said Royce Garrison, part of the "Shrek" team. “We all kind of work together at the University (of Alabama) and brought some of our kids, so I thought it would be a fun team-building thing. And I mean, who doesn't love doughnuts?”
While most of my competitors were just there to eat some free doughnuts and spend a beautiful morning with their families, there were some people determined to win.
Ford Nixon, part of the Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service team, was ready to beat his time from last year. Nixon has been involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters for several years and was excited to be able to get a team out to run together in support of the organization.
“We are here to win,” Nixon said. “I feel pretty good about our chances. It's going to be hard eating those doughnuts and then having to run another mile. You can't prepare to eat all those doughnuts, you've just got to do it.”
The Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service team ended up placing first in the first responder category. But one of the most impressive participants was from the individual category, a man who drove hundreds of miles just to enter the race.
“I live in St. Louis, Missouri, and found the race online,” said Kyle Hanner, third place finisher in the individual category. “I'm a competitive eater and there's a website that has a bunch of eating events on it, and it listed this one. I came down here to check it out and the prize money was worth my risk in doing this race. I got third, which is a hundred bucks, and it only cost about 60 bucks to drive here and back.”
Hanner was much more of a seasoned veteran than I, as he has competed in the Nathan's hot dog eating contests. He mashed all 12 doughnuts together in order to eat them as quickly as possible. After one doughnut, I was feeling pretty confident but doughnut No. 2 two said otherwise.
I abandoned the other 10 doughnuts, continued on and finished the race in just under 16 minutes. I did not feel so good. But it was a great morning to spend with friends, get to meet people in the community, and reward my efforts with some Krispy Kreme. I'll definitely be back again next year.
32795
February 27th, 2016
Award-winning illustrator visits Northport school - David Diaz may have had a very different life if it hadn’t been for the word “nose.”
When Diaz was 6 years old, he and his class were working on vowel sheets to learn spelling. One assignment was filling in the “O” in “Nose” on the assignment, but what came after that changed his life.
“After I was done with the worksheet, I drew the rest of a face on the ‘O’ and that’s when I knew I wanted to draw,” Diaz said. “I’ve always known I wanted to be an illustrator.”
In the years since, Diaz has worked as a children’s book illustrator, having published drawings in over 50 books in 20 years. In 1995, his artwork in Eve Bunting’s “Smoky Night” garnered him the Caldecott Medal, which recognizes the most distinguished children’s picture books in America.
On Friday, Diaz visited Flatwoods Elementary School to talk to students about what he does for a living and to teach them how to draw, breaking down how everyday objects can be used to draw something as detailed as a person.
“We’re going to do this a few times, so don’t worry,” Diaz said. “There’s really no wrong way to do this.”
Students were not the only people who learned from an award-winning artist. While teaching elementary students how to draw, Diaz called Flatwoods Elementary teacher Rhonda Hollister to draw a face.
“I’m the worst artist in the world,” Hollister said as her students cheered her on.
As Hollister began to draw, Diaz talked her through points he had taught the students about drawing faces: the ears can look like coffee cup handles, the eyes can look like footballs and the end of a nose can look like a clover leaf.
By the end, a face had emerged.
“Maybe the FBI will have me doing profiles,” Hollister joked.
Alicia Bynum, library specialist at Flatwoods, said Diaz’s visit was part of the school’s recent Amber Brown Grant, which is given on behalf of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. The grant provided $250 for new library books and the opportunity for Diaz to visit the school.
“I think it’s interesting for them to know that they could one day be where he is,” Bynum said. “Art does have a place in the curriculum and it does lead somewhere.”
Diaz, who credits just as much influence from German expressionism as he has to Latin American art, said one facet of his art is passing it on to the next generation.
“I think what’s important is to expose kids to as many doorways as possible and they will find the right door, the right fit,” he said.
In addition, Diaz hopes the students learn to put their own style on their drawings.
"I think the thing is to take something, distill it and put it out there with your own voice and interpretation," he said.
Student Lauren Pickell said she has always loved to draw and that watching Diaz work was exciting.
“I usually draw what’s in my head, but Mr. Diaz made it look easy,” Pickell said.
For Diaz, the future is bright for children’s books.
“I think we are in another golden age of children’s book,” he said. “Fortunately, picture books are very tactile and there is no replacing that experience with a tablet.”
Flatwoods Principal Mary Jean Sutton said having the students hear and learn from Diaz was a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity that can expand their knowledge of what art can be.
“Now that they have seen him and his style, they will look at artwork and see things they have never seen before because he’s explained how he illustrates. Now they can appreciate the differences in other things,” Sutton said.
Before Diaz left, teacher Paul Hedrick thanked him for coming.
“This means a lot for our community because we don’t get a lot of opportunities like this,” Hedrick said. “We really appreciate it.”

Reach Drew Taylor at drew.taylor@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0204.
32794
February 27th, 2016
Women's wheelchair basketball rings in 2014-15 season with memorabilia - It was a joyous evening Friday inside an enthusiastic and historic Foster Auditorium, the setting part celebratory, part athletic competition.
The University of Alabama women’s wheelchair basketball team collected their rings from the 2014-15 national championship season shortly after dropping a 54-42 game to Texas-Arlington.
UA fell to 5-8 in conference and will face Texas-Arlington at the national tournament next month in Pennsylvania.
Alabama held a three-point early in the third quarter but Texas-Arlington went on an 8-0 run to surge in front, part of a 12-2 run to close the quarter which ended with UA down seven 38-31.
“We came out (of half) a little bit flat and it took us a little bit to get going,” women’s coach Elisha Williams said. “Unfortunately we had some turnovers and missed some easy shots.
“Those are things that are easy fixes. It’s a good learning experience for a young team which needs to know you need to play solid every quarter.”
Alabama pulled to within five in the fourth quarter but it was as close as it would get as Texas-Arlington pulled away for a 12-point win.
Arinn Young led UA with a game-high 22 points, shooting 10 of 21 from the field, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out four assists. Maude Jacques was the only other Alabama player in double figures, finishing with 10 points on 4 of 12 shooting.
Texas-Arlington also had two players in double figures, led by Rose Hollerman’s 22 points. She also recorded five rebounds and had five assists. Her teammate Morgan Wood scored 20.
Hollerman gave Alabama trouble most of the night.
“She’s their top player, is on the national team,” Williams said. She’s a very talented player, and she can hit a lot of big shots. It was a real challenge for us.”
Alabama has two weeks off before heading to the national tournament.
“We’ll practice until then,” Williams said. “We know what we need to work on, what we need to improve on. A few less turnovers and knock down a couple of those easy shots.”
Immediately following the game, members of the 2014-15 team took center court for the national championship ring presentation. UA President Stuart Bell presented members of the team with their rings, which signified the fourth national championship in the program’s short history.
It was the one game a year the team plays in Foster Auditorium.
“It’s always big when we can play here, get the pep band out and the video screens,” Williams said. “It was just a real honor.
“Getting the rings, in some ways last season seems like it happened so long ago and in others it seems like yesterday. It gives this young team something to look forward to in the future.”
In the second game of the night, the men’s wheelchair basketball team lost 56-55 to Texas-Arlington.
Alabama fell behind early in the first half but rallied to cut the deficit to three points with six minutes remaining in the half. The team went into half down 27-23.
Back-to-back buckets by Michael Auprince cut the deficit to one point with less than 16 minutes in the second half. Another Auprince basket with 14:20 to go gave UA a 33-32 lead.
Texas-Arlington went up by seven late in the second half and held on for the win.

Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron.suttles@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0229.
32793
February 27th, 2016
Robert Witt inducted into the National Collegiate Wheelchair Basketball Intercollegiate Division Hall of Fame - University of Alabama System Chancellor Robert Witt watched from mid-court as the women’s wheelchair basketball teams for UA and the University of Texas-Arlington zipped up and down the court at Foster Auditorium on Friday night.
After a close first half, the Movin’ Mavs beat the Crimson Tide 54-42. As the court prepared for the men’s game that followed, the 2014-2015 women’s team was recognized for its fourth national championship in seven years with a ring presentation ceremony.
The two programs, each with histories of multiple championships, represent Witt’s legacy as an administrator committed to adaptive athletics.
At half time, with the women’s teams tied 26-26, Witt was inducted into the National Collegiate Wheelchair Basketball Intercollegiate Division Hall of Fame for his contributions at Texas-Arlington and UA. Witt receive a standing ovation from the stands as Margaret Stran, the assistant director of UA Adapted Athletics, presented him with a plaque.
“I think it is wonderful, and I am happy about it because he has made a huge impact because he believed in the student athletes and he believed in the programs,” UA Program Director Brent Hardin said.
Hardin and Stran, his wife, pitched their vision of an adaptive athletic program at UA to Witt in 2003 after arriving on campus.
“We met him at a new faculty orientation and sat down with him. Right away, we told him our dream of starting an adaptive athletics program at Alabama, and he just got it right away,” Hardin said.
Witt pledged verbal support for the program at the time, Hardin said.
“I will never forget the words he said to me that day: ‘I really believe this can be one of the bright lights for our university.’ That really stuck with me,” Hardin said.
Witt helped secure some scholarship funds, and assisted the fledging program with an operating budget and connections with donors and other partners on campus.
“Every year, he found ways to support us in different ways,” Hardin said.
Ahead of Friday, Witt, appreciative of the honor, chose to focus on the impact on the programs on the institutions.
“I think first and foremost it is about the university being responsive to part of its community. It is meeting the needs and interest of a group of its students,” Witt said.
The recognition comes at the end of a month of highlights for the UA program. Earlier this month, trustees approved preliminary planning for a $10-million project to build a 27,036-square-foot facility that includes a basketball court for the wheelchair teams.
On Thursday, the university announced a $3-million gift in support of the new facility. Witt sat courtside on Friday with the donors Michael and Kathy Mouron of Mountain Brook, whose gift covers roughly two-third of the fundraising needed for the project, which will provide a permanent home for UA’s program. Adaptive Athletics currently has about 30 athletes in its high-performance men’s and women’s basketball and tennis teams and a total of about 100 students of a range of abilities who participate annually in its programs.
In the early years of the UA program, when the teams would compete in Arlington, Witt’s impact on the Texas program would frequently come up in conversation, Hardin said.
“We would always have people come up to me and tell me please tell Dr. Witt hello. We miss him here,” Hardin said.
The UA program’s mission is to give the students with disabilities the same opportunities on campus, according to Hardin. The adaptive athletics program makes Alabama a destination for wheelchair athletes, Witt argued.
“Many of the young men and women of wheelchair basketball were athletes in high school and then, because of an accident, were not able to be athletes the way they were,” Witt said. “They missed the competition and having disability sports programs allows those individuals to remain athletes.”
But as a part of that, Hardin and Witt say the program’s athletes become examples to others of possibilities instead of limits, providing an avenue for outreach beyond campus.
“It goes into this whole idea of changing expectations of what people with disabilities are and what athletes are. It changes everything,” Hardin said.
Witt’s first experience with wheelchair basketball and disability sports came during his presidency at Texas-Arlington in 1995.
The founder of the wheelchair basketball team, UTA alumnus Jim Hayes, was building the program and came to the new president for support. The coach asked Witt a curious question.
“He asked me if I knew how he selected his academic major at UT Arlington. I didn’t really understand the question ….” Witt said. “He said ‘I selected my major in terms of which buildings had wheelchair access’ because this was before ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) and most buildings didn’t have wheelchair access. So he checked out buildings and picked a major with buildings he could get into.”
Hayes also asked Witt to spend a day in a wheelchair. Witt said he made it about half a day.
“You gain a whole appreciation for what it is like to be confined to a wheelchair,” Witt said of the experience.
32792
February 27th, 2016
ATF simplifies rules for some state gun buyers - The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives decided this week that Alabama citizens with a sheriff-issued concealed carry license can present their pistol permit in lieu of undergoing a federal background check when buying firearms from a federally licensed dealer.
Generally, federally licensed dealers are required to run a buyer through the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System before selling a firearm, but pistol permit holders have already been run through the same system by their local sheriff's office at the time of their permit application.
The change, which the ATF's Assistant Director of Enforcement Programs and Services Marvin G. Richardson announced in a letter Wednesday, eliminates the redundancy.
The only caveat is that the pistol permit must have been issued after August 1, 2013, when the omnibus gun law Alabama Act 2013-283 went into effect and overhauled the state's rules for issuing concealed carry licenses.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, who requested the expemption, lauded the ATF's decision Friday morning.
“Alabama concealed carry permit holders in good standing have already passed a background check," Strange said. "There is no need to force them to submit to additional checks if they intend to buy a firearm within five years of receiving their permit.”
Strange said Alabama now joins 23 other states where a pistol permit can replace the NICS check before purchasing a firearm from a federally licensed dealer.
Any Alabama citizen who is 18 or older and in good standing with the law can purchase a pistol permit from the sheriff of their home county. In Tuscaloosa County, permits cost $20 per year. A permit good for five years permit costs $100.
32791
February 27th, 2016
Pretty Brown Girl Day celebrates girls of all colors - The fifth annual International Pretty Brown Girl Day celebration will be held at 3 p.m. today in the activity center at Weeping Mary Baptist Church, 2010 T.Y. Rogers Jr. Ave.
The day is an outgrowth of the Pretty Brown Girl Movement, which seeks to help girls of color ages 5 to 18 realize their self-worth.
Kerri Ash, organizer of the event, said there will be guest speakers, awards and arts and crafts with a superhero theme.
“We’ll be making capes, masks and we’ll have superhero girls showcasing their powers on stage through dance and song,” Ash said.
Tickets are $5 and guests are asked to preregister at www.getkerridaway.weebly.com.
32790
February 26th, 2016
University Presbyterian Church fundraiser to help the hungry - The Empty Bowls fundraiser held Friday will help University Presbyterian Church provide more healthy meals to feed to Tuscaloosa's needy, said the church's food pantry manager.
“I’m really trying to work in a nutritional array,” said Jennifer Sheppard. She said she wants to include fewer cookies and snacks and more vegetables and fruits in the bags the church distributes twice a month to the hungry.
The bags include cereal, canned tuna, vegetables and soup, noodles, applesauce cups, rice or beans, oatmeal packs, fruit bars, peanut butter, and whatever else the church can afford. The church purchases the food from the West Alabama Food Bank.
The church feeds about 650 people a month through its food pantry program.
Last year, the Empty Bowls fundraiser generated more than $2,000, Sheppard said. While it was too early to determine the total raised Friday, the church at 1127 Eighth St. was packed with people sampling the soups available from Glory Bound Gyro Co., Manna Grocery and Deli, Chuck’s Fish and Surin of Thailand. Patrons could also choose soup made and donated by members of University Presbyterian Church.
For $10, participants could taste the different types of soup and pick their own ceramic bowl to take home.
The bowls were donated by the University of Alabama ceramics departments, local artists, and the ceramic art studio All Fired Up, which allowed church members to come and make bowls for free. Publix supermarket donated bread for the fundraiser.
For more information on how to help at University Presbyterian Church food pantry, call 758-5422 or email upc@upc.org.
For more information about the national Empty Bowls project, visit www.emptybowls.net or write to Empty Bowls at P.O. Box 1689, Burnsville, N.C. 28714.
32789
February 26th, 2016
Judge finds probable cause to hold two - Investigators believe that a man fatally shot at a birthday party last month was an innocent bystander.
Markees Antwon Lee, 27, was killed outside of Carriage Inn Apartments on Hargrove Road on Jan. 11.
Authorities believe that Brandon Jerron Elliott, 24, fired a .38-caliber revolver from the passenger window of an SUV driven by his co-defendant Deshawn Lamarcus Holliday, 21.
"We believe Mr. Lee was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit investigator Jonathan Bryant said at a court hearing Friday.
Elliot and Holliday are both charged with capital murder. They appeared in Tuscaloosa County District Court Friday for a preliminary hearing, where Judge Jim Guin found probable cause against both.
The woman celebrating the birthday told investigators that she asked Elliott to leave her apartment after Elliott became angry with another man for dancing with his girlfriend, Bryant said.
Witnesses told police that Holliday, Elliott and a third man left in Holliday's mother's Dodge Durango. Holliday circled the block, Bryant said, while Elliott fired from the passenger side. Some witnesses said that they saw Elliott fire the gun, one witness said she saw Holliday shooting. Lee was standing about 10 yards from the street, Bryant said, and was struck in the chest. He was un able to provide a statement to police before he died.
The man who was with Holliday and Elliott, who wasn't charged, told police that he was asleep on the couch at the party and then fell asleep in the back of the SUV. He told investigators he didn't realize any shots had been fired, Bryant said.
Someone fired six shots into Holliday's mother's apartment at Forrester Gardens around the time shortly after Lee was pronounced dead at DCH Regional Medical Center. No one has been charged in that case.
Holliday turned himself in to investigators the following morning, and told police that Elliott had fired the gun and asked him to get rid of it. Officers found the revolver in a trash can in a breezeway at Forrester Gardens.
Around 50 people were celebrating the woman's birthday at Carriage Inn Apartments near the intersection of Hargrove Road and 10th Avenue that Sunday night.
Lee, who friends called "Twack", grew up in the Rosedale Court area. His death was the third of four homicides that took place in Tuscaloosa between Jan. 8 and Jan. 14.
32788
February 26th, 2016
Governor appoints Mark C. Nelson as county commissioner - Gov. Robert Bentley appointed Mark C. Nelson, a current member of the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education, to the vacant District 3 seat on the Tuscaloosa County Commission on Friday.
Nelson, 47, said the school board will accept his resignation on Monday night, and he will be sworn into the commission on Wednesday morning.
Policy states that the school board has 30 days to appoint Nelson's successor.
The Tuscaloosa County Republican Executive Committee named Nelson as the Republican nominee for the Nov. 8 general election on Thursday night.
He will replace Commissioner Bobby Miller, who died on Jan. 29.
32787
February 26th, 2016
Duncanville woman fatally injured in wreck - A 19-year-old Duncanville woman died Friday afternoon following a single-vehicle wreck shortly before noon.
State troopers said Chaney Taylor Hallman, 19, was driving a 2005 Ford Taurus on South Rosser Road, when the car left the roadway and struck a tree around 11:50 a.m.
Hallman was not using a seat belt, trooper said. Hallman was airlifted to DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, where at 1:51 p.m. she was pronounced dead.
The crash occurred about six miles south of Tuscaloosa. No additional information was available Friday night. State troopers said they are continuing to investigate the accident.
32786
February 26th, 2016
Tax holiday includes severe weather items - Residents of Tuscaloosa, Northport and most West Alabama counties can buy certain severe weather preparedness gear this weekend without paying state or local sales taxes.
Alabama's fifth annual Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday began at at 12:01 a.m. and ends at 11:59 p.m. Sunday. During that period, shoppers can buy batteries, tarps, cell phone chargers and more free of Alabama's 4 percent state sales tax.
Tuscaloosa, Northport and every central western Alabama county except Hale are participating and will waive local taxes as well during the three-day event.
32785
February 26th, 2016
Next fight set for Tuscaloosa's Deontay Wilder - Nothing in boxing, it seems, is certain until both combatants make their way to the ring on fight night. But it certainly appears that World Boxing Council heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder of Tuscaloosa is headed to Russia for his next title defense against top-ranked challenger Alexander Povetkin.
After the open negotiations period ended Friday at noon eastern time with no deal complete, the WBC organization went to a purse bid for Wilder's mandatory title defense.
Povetkin's promotion won the bid over Lou DiBella, who has promoted Wilder's last two title defenses, including the last one in January in Brooklyn at the Barclays Center. The winning bid of $7.15 million topped DiBella's bid of $5.1 million.
According to WBC rules, the winner of the fight gets 10 percent of the bid with the remaining 70 percent going to Wilder and 30 percent to Povetkin.
As per WBC rules, Povetkin's promoter has 15 days to set a date and location for the fight, with all signs pointing towards Moscow as the most likely destination.
Wilder co-manager Jay Deas hasn't given up hope that the fight could land in Brooklyn, though.
“The bottom line is they won the bid so they will be the promoter of the fight, but it's still up in the air where that fight will go,” Deas said. “People are assuming that means the fight will go to Russia, and it might, but I think the Barclays Center in Brooklyn will still try to negotiate a deal to bring it to Brooklyn because the owner of the Barclays Center is Russian and there's a huge Russian population in New York.
“The fight may can do better in Brooklyn than it can in Russia. It's a business deal and it's still up in the air where the fight will land and when it will be.”
Deas said right now it appears the fight will take place May 21. According to WBC rules, the fight must take place 90 days after the bid has been awarded.
Wilder (36-0) won the title in January 2015 in a unanimous decision over Bermane Stiverne and has successfully defended the title three times, including a ninth-round win over Artur Szpilka in January in what most boxing experts are considering the knockout of the year.
Povetkin is 30-1 with his only loss coming against Wladimir Klitschko in 2013.
Reach Aaron Suttles at aaron.suttles@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0229.
32784
February 26th, 2016
Walk to raise money in fight against multiple sclerosis - The annual Walk MS: West Alabama will be held at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater on Saturday at 9:30 a.m. to raise funds to support research for a cure and programs and services for more than 7,000 families affected by multiple sclerosis in Alabama and Mississippi.
Participants can register by going to www.walkMS.org, calling 205.879.8546 or emailing deanna.deschenes@nmss.org. Day-of registration will open at 8 a.m. Saturday.
There is no cost to register. Participants raise funds and donate them to the cause. Those who raise $100 or more get a T-shirt.
Laura Pemberton, marketing and communications manager for the Alabama-Mississippi Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, said the goal is to raise $14,800.
“Walk MS is an opportunity for people living with MS and those who care about them to connect, be inspired and raise critical funds for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society,” Pemberton said.
Walk MS has raised more than $920 million since 1988.
Multiple sclerosis is an unpredictable, often disabling disease of the central nervous system that disrupts the flow of information within the brain, and between the brain and body. Most people with MS are diagnosed between the ages of 20 and 50, with at least two to three times more women than men being diagnosed with the disease. MS affects more than 2.3 million people worldwide.
32783
February 26th, 2016
Severe weather tax holiday starts Friday - Residents of Tuscaloosa, Northport and most West Alabama counties can buy certain severe weather preparedness gear this weekend without paying state or local sales taxes.

Alabama's fifth annual Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday kicks off Friday at 12:01 a.m. and ends 72 hours later. During that period, shoppers can buy batteries, tarps, cell phone chargers and more free of Alabama's 4 percent state sales tax.

Tuscaloosa, Northport and every central western Alabama county except Hale are participating and will waive local taxes as well during the three-day event.

32782
February 26th, 2016
Couple makes $3 million donation to UA program - A Mountain Brook couple has donated $3 million to help fund construction of a planned adaptive athletics facility at the University of Alabama.

The university on Thursday announced the gift from alumni Michael and Kathy Mouron -- which will cover about a third of the cost of the facility -- before the Night of Champions celebration of the successes of the Adaptive Athletics program, which was founded in 2003.

“The university and I thank the Mourons for their generous gift toward this project, which will provide state-of-the-art facilities and support for our adapted student-athletes and coaches,” UA President Stuart Bell said.

Earlier this month, trustees approved preliminary planning for a 27,036-square-foot facility that includes a gym and basketball court, lobby and concourse, office suite, locker rooms and weight and workout rooms.

The facility to be built on the south side of the UA Student Rec Center will provide competition space for the men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball teams while also providing locker, training, storage and office space for all program’s coaches and students.

The cost of the $10 million project is being split evenly between university funds and gifts and fundraising.

While the teams currently compete and practice in Foster Auditorium and the recreation center, there is no dedicated space for locker rooms, equipment storage, laundry or adaptive training equipment, according to Brent Hardin, director of the Adapted Wheelchair Athletics program. Hardin predicts the new facility would be a standard bearer for programs nationwide.

“This isn’t just a local program – it’s one with worldwide influence. I hope the level of commitment at the University of Alabama will inspire others, both here and across the country, to support adapted athletics,” Kathy Mouron said.

Activities will continue on Friday as UA System Chancellor Robert Witt will be inducted into the National Collegiate Wheelchair Basketball Intercollegiate Division Hall of Fame at halftime of the UA women’s wheelchair basketball game at Foster Auditorium.

The men’s and women’s teams are playing a series of games on Friday and Saturday to close out the 2015-16 season.

32781
February 26th, 2016
Junior League offers grants to nonprofits - Nonprofit organizations that focus on health, education or financial literacy can now apply for grants through the Junior League of Tuscaloosa.

To download an application, go to the Junior League's website, www.jltuscaloosa.org, and click on the “Community” tab.

The application deadline is March 18. Grant money will be awarded in May.

Organizations can call Jennifer Colburn, grants chairwoman, at 205-393-6570 or come by the Junior League of Tuscaloosa office at 2139 Fourth St. in downtown Tuscaloosa.

32780
February 26th, 2016
Relocated T.J. Maxx to mark opening - T.J. Maxx will celebrate the opening of its relocated Tuscaloosa store on Thursday, March 3. The new store is in McFarland Plaza at 2600 McFarland Blvd.

The opening celebration at the 24,000-square-foot store will be from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. T.J. Maxx previously was located in McFarland Mall.

The store's regular hours will be from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday.

32779
February 26th, 2016
New bicycle store coming to Midtown Village - A new bicycle store will be coming to Midtown Village.

TREK Bicycle Store plans to open an approximately 4,000-square-foot store in the Tuscaloosa shopping center. The store will be an authorized retailer of TREK bike products and will offer cycling gear and provide customers with advice and service from experts in the sport of cycling, according to a statement from Birmingham office of Dallas, Texas-based SRS Real Estate Partners.

Martin Smith of SRS represented Midtown's owners, Carlyle-Cypress Tuscaloosa I, LLC in the lease negotiations with TREK.

No timetable was given for when the store will open.

TREK Bicycle Corp. is a major bicycle and cycling product manufacturer and distributor. It produces high-quality bicycles, helmets, electronics, cycling shoes, tires, wheels, handlebars, saddles, and other cycling clothing and accessories. It sells its products through authorized dealers such as the one that will be coming to Tuscaloosa.

The TREK Bicycle Store will be new addition to the Tuscaloosa retail scene.

32778
February 26th, 2016
Presidential hopefuls coming to state -

Former President Bill Clinton is coming to Montgomery this weekend to campaign for wife Hillary Clinton ahead of Tuesday presidential primary.

The former president will speak at a get-out-the vote event Saturday. The details of the event will be announced later by the Clinton campaign.

Hillary Clinton will speak the same day at Miles College in Birmingham. Campaign officials say the Clintons plan on discussing income inequality and other barriers faced by American families.

The announcement comes as the state’s GOP-dominated Legislature approves a bill to roll back Birmingham’s planned minimum wage increase to $10.10.

Republicans are headed to the state as well.

Republican Marco Rubio will make stop Saturday at Samford University in Homewood while Republican Donald Trump will hold a rally in Huntsville on Sunday afternoon.

32777
February 26th, 2016
Law banning cities from setting minimum wage resolves Tuscaloosa question - :

With Gov. Robert Bentley's signature on a bill that blocks local governments from setting their own minimum wage, a question posed by the Tuscaloosa City Council has been resolved.

Earlier this month, the City Council asked its local delegation in the Legislature for clarity on a municipality’s role in establishing a minimum wage.

That answer came Thursday, when Bentley signed the bill after it cleared the Senate 23-10, with votes largely following party lines.

The city’s request for clarity followed pressure by the $10.10 Minimum Wage Coalition for Tuscaloosa to follow the Birmingham City Council in enacting a higher minimum wage for workers.

City attorneys questioned whether municipalities did could set their own minimum wage on employers within their respective jurisdictions.

Mayor Walt Maddox, among others, questioned the ramifications of having a range of minimum wage rates across the state or even within one county.

Now, that is no longer a concern.

The new law says: “A county, municipality, or any other political subdivision of this state shall not enact or administer any ordinance, policy, rule, or other mandate requiring an employer to provide any employee, class of employees, or independent contractor with any employment benefit, including, but not limited to, paid or unpaid leave, vacation, wage, or work schedule, that is not required by state or federal law.”

Alabama does not have a minimum wage of its own, so it uses the national minimum wage of $7.25.

Republican legislators supported the bill introduced Feb. 9 by Rep. David Faulkner, R-Mountain Brook, to push back against the Birmingham City Council, which voted this month to create a citywide minimum wage $10.10, more than a 39 percent increase over the current minimum wage.

Sen. Jabo Waggoner, R-Vestavia Hills, said the state should not have a “hodgepodge” of different minimum wages.

But Sen. Linda Coleman-Madison, D-Birmingham, says she is concerned about people trying to feed their families on current hourly wages.

That is one of many concerns of the $10.10 Minimum Wage Coalition, which plans to fight back against the legislation.

LeDarius Hilliard, president of the Jefferson County Young Democrats and a founder of the $10.10 Coalition, said he expects the group's lawyers will review the bill before pushing back.

The matter likely will end up before an Alabama court before the matter is resolved.

“We’ll go back and do a thorough review of the actual law,” Hilliard said. “From there we’ll take it to the next level.”

Hilliard also questioned the Legislature’s approach in approving the bill. He said proponents for a minimum wage increase were never called before the Senate to offer their views and no public hearing was held to gather such information.

“I’m very disappointed, first of all, with the way they handled it,” Hilliard said. “They rushed the vote and then underhandedly had the governor sign it immediately. That’s unprecedented. Unheard of.

“There’s a variety of different reasons for why I’m disgusted.”

Material from The Associated Press was used in this report.



Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.

32776
February 26th, 2016
GOP nominates Nelson to fill vacancy - Voters will see a different name on the Nov. 8 general election ballot for the Tuscaloosa County Commission District 3 spot.

The Tuscaloosa County Republican Executive Committee announced Thursday night that Mark C. Nelson, 47, will replace District 3 Commissioner Bobby Miller’s name as the Republican nominee. Nelson currently is a member of the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education.

Miller, who was first elected to the commission in 1977, announced in October last year that he would seek an 11th term in his District 3 seat, but he died on Jan. 29 at DCH Regional Medical Center.

Nelson will not serve in Miller’s place unless he is elected to the seat in November or Gov. Robert Bentley appoints him to the seat to complete the last few months of the current term.

Jim Zeanah, chairman of county GOP executive committee, said Thursday night that he has it on good authority that the governor will appoint Nelson to fill the vacancy within 24 hours.

“I’m not filling Bobby Miller’s place yet. The governor still has to make an appointment,” Nelson said.

In the general election, Nelson will run against John Downer, an independent, and any other independent who qualifies through the end of the primary election or any potential write-in candidate.

The committee chose Nelson based on his application that included a personal data sheet, a statement of reasons and qualifications for seeking the nomination and a detailed resume of work experience, public service history, civic contributions in the communities of District 3, and prior roles in election activities.

Nelson, who grew up in Tuscaloosa, has served on the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education for five and a half years and has been an attorney of 23 years.

“That has given me the experience of working with our local elected governments, including the County Commission. …I’ve always respected the work that they did, and I think it gives me an opportunity to do something a little different,” Nelson said. “I’m going to continue to be committed to education, and the commission plays a vital role in that, and they play a vital role in the work of the entire county.”

The county board of education woould have 30 days to appoint Nelson’s school board successor if he resigns. He said he will resign if he is appointed to the commission seat.

Nelson said his goal is to get on the commission first, get to know his fellow commissioners and Commission Chairman and County Probate Judge Hardy McCollum and learn.

“I have worked with Mark as a member of the school board. I have worked well with him on issues of mutual concern,” McCollum said in a phone interview with the Tuscaloosa News Thursday night.

“I certainly would never be able to replace Bobby (Miller). I only hope that I can do honor to the work that he started,” Nelson said.

32775
February 26th, 2016
Bar association prepared wills for police officers this week for free - Attorneys with the Tuscaloosa County Bar Association spent Wednesday and Thursday preparing wills for nearly 100 law enforcement officers.

The volunteers prepared a will, a power of attorney and health-care directives for 28 Northport police officers on Tuesday and expected to prepare 60 for Tuscaloosa police officers Wednesday as part of the bar's annual "Wills for Heroes" program. The public service was free, and would usually cost someone between $750 and $1,500.

The state's program is modeled after a similar effort started by South Carolina lawyer Anthony Hayes, who noted that very few of the law enforcement officers and firefighters killed on Sept. 11, 2001, had wills.

The Wills For Heroes Foundation used experimental data and feedback from state and national first responder organizations to estimate that 80 to 90 percent of first responders, which include fire, police and emergency medical personnel, do not have wills, despite the dangerous nature of their jobs.

Attorney Jason Neff, a member of the Tuscaloosa County Bar Association's executive committee, said that the group intends to hold a clinic for Alabama Law Enforcement Agency troopers, the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office and University of Alabama Police later this year.

This is the first year attorneys have assisted the officers at their departments. Past clinics have been held at the University of Alabama School of Law.

"We wanted to make it easier to come on-site and we've had a tremendous turn out," he said.

32774
February 26th, 2016
Budget approved without new money for Medicaid - MONTGOMERY — The Alabama Senate on Thursday approved a lean general fund budget that would mean cuts in Medicaid services— and halt a long-planned reform to managed care —if it wins final approval.

Senators approved the $1.8 billion appropriations bill on a 24-10 vote, sending it to the Alabama House to start what is expected to be a lengthy negotiation.

The Senate-passed budget provides level-funding to most agencies, including Medicaid. It does not provide the additional $100 million that Medicaid Commissioner Stephanie Azar said was needed to maintain services and continue a transition to a managed care system.

Sen. Trip Pittman, chairman of the Finance and Taxation General Fund Committee, said he thought it was important to “frame the debate” around Medicaid.

“Medicaid is an important part of our health care system and we’re going to have to decide how we are going to find additional funding for Medicaid or suffer the catastrophic consequences of cutting $100 million and also taking off the table the waiver,” Pittman said during the debate.

Pittman said it was impossible to provide the additional money to Medicaid without deep cuts that would “cannibalize” other state agencies for the sake of Medicaid.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid this year approved Alabama’s waiver request to alter its Medicaid program from the traditional fee-for-service health care delivery model to managed care. That would involve 11 regional care organizations providing care and case management services for patients. Alabama promised in the agreement to maintain adequate funding for Medicaid.

Sen. Rodger Smitherman, a Democrat from Birmingham, said he feared the Medicaid reductions could become reality, a view shared by advocacy groups for the poor.

“Medicaid insures many of the most vulnerable Alabamians: children, seniors, and people with disabilities. As the budget debate goes forward, we hope lawmakers will be careful not to send patients a message that their basic health care could be at risk,” Arise Citizens’ Policy Project executive director Kimble Forrister said in a statement.

Legislators have so far rejected a proposal by Gov. Robert Bentley to shift some education dollars to the more cash-strapped general fund.

Senators also rejected a proposal to restore a 2 percent pay raise for state employees that Bentley had sought. Senators tabled the proposal on an 18-14 vote after senators raised concerns about affording the raise in a budget struggling to fund agencies.

32773
February 26th, 2016
Work begins on cottage court in Alberta - Work is officially under way on Tuscaloosa’s first cottage court residential development.

Created out of the Tuscaloosa Forward planning process that followed the April 27, 2011, tornado, the cottage court design allows for a more dense residential development while still retaining detached houses.

A groundbreaking ceremony was held in Alberta Wednesday for Elements on 30th, a cottage court development by Allied Realty & Development Inc.

Set for an August completion date, the plan calls for a total of 20 units of 3- and 4-bedrooms each to be clustered around four separate courtyards.

It is on a 2.23-acre tract on 30th Avenue East, and the monthly rental rates for the 1,600- to 1,800-square-foot units is expected to be between $1,650 to $2,100 per month.

“This means a lot to me,” said Clayton Hudson, founder, owner, president and broker for Allied Realty, during the ceremony.

Hudson, a Tuscaloosa native, said he grew up in Claymont, located not too far from the Elements on 30th site, and helping Alberta rebuild has been a goal of his since the tornado struck.

In October, Hudson told the City Council that he wanted to develop the cottage court in order to bring private, affordable housing to Alberta while fostering the rebirth of the traditional neighborhood.

“It’s been a long road getting here for everyone,” Hudson said, “but a lot of good things are happening.”

Mayor Walt Maddox was on hand for the ceremony to recognize the new addition to the Alberta landscape.

The mayor said being in the heart of the tornado’s path served as a reminder of the devastation that followed the April 2011 storm. Through planning and the efforts of both public and private investment, Alberta stands to return better than before, he said.

“Anybody could build back quickly, but we wanted to do it right, Maddox said. “And the people of this area earned that right in the hardest of ways.”

District 5 City Councilman Kip Tyner also was among the 50 or so officials and residents who turned out on a sunny but windy day for the groundbreaking ceremony.

Tyner praised Hudson’s vision and passion for restoring Alberta, highlighted by the Elements on 30th development and another planned cottage court by Allied Realty on a site just north of the Elements location.

Rezoning efforts for the new site are now ongoing, but plans for the development have not yet been released.

“I love Clay Hudson,” Tyner told the crowd. “Alberta has the greatest neighborhoods in the city of Tuscaloosa.

“They’ve been here through the good times and the bad times, and now they’re here for a time that’s going to great.”



Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.

32772
February 26th, 2016
Five honored for law enforcement duty at Exchange Club Officer of the Year banquet - Homicide investigators interviewed more than 70 witnesses when they were building a case against now-convicted killer Alexius Foster.

Most of those interviewed were reluctant to talk because they feared for their safety. Foster was accused of killing his uncle and later of killing his friend under the mistaken belief the friend had given information to law enforcement.

During Foster's first trial, Investigator Josh Hastings identified and persuaded witnesses to come forward that led to the arrest of a second suspect. He also persuaded witnesses to testify in the Foster trial, which ended with guilty verdicts and a life sentence.

His success with that homicide and several other investigations during 2015 earned Hastings one of the Tuscaloosa Exchange Club's Officer of the Year awards. The Tuscaloosa County sheriff's deputy was one of five law enforcement officers recognized at the annual banquet at Indian Hills Country Club on Thursday.

"Due to the tireless and talented efforts of Investigator Josh Hastings, Alexius Foster will be spending the rest of his life in prison where he is no longer a threat to the citizens of Tuscaloosa County," said Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Ron Abernathy. "Tuscaloosa County is a much safer place because of Investigator Hastings."

Hastings has worked for the Sheriff's Office since 2005 and has been assigned to the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit since 2012.

The other officers who were honored Thursday include:

-Tuscaloosa Police Officer Glenn Heritage, a 22-year department veteran who has been assigned to the U.S. Marshal Service Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force since 2008. As a member of the task force, Heritage tracks local suspects who are difficult to find or considered especially dangerous. Most of the fugitives, however, are suspects hiding in the area because they're wanted by agencies in other states. In December, Heritage helped capture a man suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend, a police sergeant in Louisiana. He was directly involved in capturing 55 fugitives in the Tuscaloosa area during 2015, said Tuscaloosa Police Chief Steve Anderson, and assisted in many others.

"Officer Heritage is an asset to our department and is always willing to help anyone who asks for his assistance," Anderson said. "He is making a difference every day in our attempt to make the streets of Tuscaloosa safe for everyone."

-Alabama State Trooper Lt. Keith Wilson, a senior trooper who has worked for the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency for 10 years. During 2015, Wilson investigated 91 accidents, initiated 654 law enforcement actions and assisted 18 motorists, according to Post Commander Frank Hennigan. Wilson is the Acting Troop C commander. He made nine DUI arrests and completed 33 commercial vehicle inspections. He is an instructor for the department and a member of the agency's motorcycle unit.

"Senior Trooper Wilson is very professional and courteous when dealing with the public," Hennigan said. 'He presents an outstanding positive attitude towards his job and the mission of the department."

- University of Alabama Police Officer Mike Pate, a law enforcement officer for 24 years who has worked at UA for eight. He has been assigned to the motorcycle unit for two years. Chief John Hooks said that Pate is respected for his interaction with the campus community and visitors. One person who had been stopped for a traffic violation later contacted the department, calling the stop "the most positive experience with law enforcement he ever had," Hooks said.

"He is a true people person that treats all members off the community with respect and fairness," Hooks said.

- Northport Police Community Relations Officer Carrie Baker, who has worked for the department since 2008. Baker has also served as a field training officer and investigator.

"CRO Baker is an asset to the Northport Police Department," said Chief Gerald Burton. "Her role as community relations officer is to create new, effective and exciting ways for NPD to address the concerns of the public. She offers many ways for the community to interact with the public."

Baker has organized women's self-defense classes, Neighborhood Watch programs, Coffee with a Cop and the Citizens Police Academy. She has hosted junior and teen police academies and several other programs. Baker has also assisted local needy families for Christmas.

Exchange Club member Ken Swindle, Tuscaloosa's former police chief, said the officers recognized represent those in law enforcement who make a difference in their communities.

U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Alabama Marty Keely spoke at the luncheon.

32771
February 26th, 2016
Central breaks through to win regional tournament - MONTGOMERY -- Central High School senior Jada Prewitt summed up the Falcons' 52-32 victory over B.T. Washington in the Class 5A Central Regional championship game with one word.

She sat on the bench with her teammates before the awards presentation, and grinned.

"Finally," she said.

Overcome with emotion, Prewitt took a sip of water and shook her head, still smiling.

It took five consecutive trips to the Elite Eight for Central to advance to the Final Four before they came out on top. The Falcons (27-5) move on to play Anniston at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex on Tuesday, March 2, at 6 p.m.

"I was at a loss for words, really. That is the only thing I could say was finally," Prewitt said. "I was just happy. Senior year and we finally made it past regional finals."

In his fifth year as Central's head coach, Michael Rivers made a promise to his players this season. If the Falcons made it to the regional finals, he'd get them to Birmingham.

"Toward the middle of the year they wanted to win for me at that point, and I knew how heart-breaking it was all those years before, and we really changed focus this year. It became about our team and our school, and we wanted to do it more for our school than anything - Central High School, the western cluster in Tuscaloosa - that is what we really wanted to do it for."

Senior Traniya Pitts was a member of every single team that advanced to the Alabama State University's Dunn-Oliver Acadome and fell short. She led the Falcons in scoring with 15 points, had three steals and was named to the all-tournament team.

"It feels so good," Pitts said. "I've never felt like that before."

Junior Antiyocka Howard was named the tournament MVP. Howard finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. During Monday's regional semifinal victory over Demopolis, she scored 24 points.

"She had such a horrible time down here last year, and she vowed to come back with a vengeance this year, " Rivers said. "She made up for everything that went down last year. She really did."

Central had a 22-15 halftime advantage, and outscored B.T. Washington 18-10 in the third quarter to extend its lead to 40-25. It was at that point that a smile began to spread across Rivers' face.

"Honestly, it's ecstatic. I can't even describe it to you," Rivers said. "That feeling of adulation and camaraderie, and looking at the fans is what inspired me. We had a handful, but you knew they were there. You knew it."

Daveon Bradford hit a pair of free throws with 3:00 remaining to give the Falcons their final, 20 point lead, 52-32. Central's Shaun Stephens finished with 13 points and nine rebounds. For B.T. Washington (22-3), Daja Walker finished with 10 points.

Reach Joey Chandler at joey.chandler@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.

32770
February 25th, 2016
UA program has blossomed into a model for others - Brent Hardin arrived at the University of Alabama more than a dozen years ago with an idea, but no budget.
He wanted to start a wheelchair basketball team, but he didn't have so much as a single wheelchair.
"We didn't have anything but a great idea," he said.
He applied for grants to get money for equipment and started a women's team, which made it to nationals in the first season. Alabama won its first national championship in 2009, and has won three more since. As the program grew, men's basketball and tennis teams were added, and each won a national title in 2013.
Now the UA adapted athletics program has a $600,000 annual budget that funds scholarships and allows full-time coaches in all three sports, as well as paying for bus trips and uniforms. Earlier this month, the UA board of trustees approved funding for a $10 million facility that will be built adjacent to the Student Recreation Center.
The program's growth will be on display tonight at the Bryant Conference Center for a Night of Champions event that is free and open to the public. On Friday, the UA men's and women's teams will play Texas-Arlington in a doubleheader at Foster Auditorium starting at 6 p.m.
UA wheelchair basketball comes full circle every year when it plays its doubleheader at Foster Auditorium. That's where the first teams played, in an historic but run-down building before it was refurbished in 2011 to house the UA varsity women's basketball and volleyball teams.
"We were happy to have it," said Hardin, who serves as UA director of adapted athletics. "Nobody wanted to be there. It was hot. There was no air conditioning. But it was our place."
The wheelchair athletics programs moved to the rec center in 2005, but the athletic department agreed, after the refurbishment, to allow the teams to play one date at Foster per year. It's a highlight on the schedule.
At last year's game, UA women's player Maude Jacques, a graduate student in social work from Montreal, Canada, wheeled onto the court and immediately spotted a sign in the crowd cheering her on.
"It was someone I barely knew," she said. "I was sitting next to her in the hairdresser and she asked about the game."
The doubleheader drew more than 2,000 fans two years ago, and around 1,800 last year. Playing in the big arena uplifts the players, and their sport.
"The (pep) band comes and I think that helps make it feel so official, like any other sport," Jacques said.
Michael Auprince, a freshman center for the UA men's team from Sydney, Australia, is an imposing force. Ask him about his prosthetic left leg and he'll look you straight in the eye and tell you, in his thick accent: "Shark attack."
Then he'll laugh and confess that it's really due to a congenital birth defect. The leg was amputated at the knee when he was 10.
Unlike many wheelchair basketball players, Auprince is able to walk. Because of his mobility, he accounts for four points on a scale that allows up to 14 points spread among the five player on the court at any time.
He's the first to tell you wheelchair basketball is a contact sport.
"They're armored tanks," he said of the chairs. "You get hit and you're going to feel it."
Auprince won gold and bronze medals in swimming at the 2012 Paralympic Games in London. He was lured to UA by some previous Aussies who had thrived in the adapted athletics program.
"I've always wanted to represent something bigger than myself," he said. "There's something in the air here I can't describe, a school spirit. I'm here to make Paralympic teams. I want to be the best wheelchair basketball player in the world, and I think this is the best place to play wheelchair basketball."
Hardin come to Alabama from Florida State in 2003 as an assistant professor, coinciding with Robert Witt being named president at UA. The timing couldn't have been better for Hardin's dream: Witt came from Texas-Arlington, where he had been a strong supporter of wheelchair athletics.
Witt found some money for Hardin's program by the end of its first year, and the funding continued to grow.
"We still don't have the biggest budget," Hardin said, "but we do more with what we have."
To that end, the program still aggressively pursues outside grants. Just a week ago, the United States Tennis Association awarded $10,000 to UA for wheelchair tennis.
In addition to the wheelchair basketball and tennis teams that compete collegiately on a national level, UA's program has also delved into rowing, track and field and swimming on a more intramural level.
Alabama's program has a worldwide reach, with more than 20 current and former athletes and coaches expected to participate in the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in September.
With the funding for the $10 million facility that was approved earlier this month, Alabama's program become the epicenter for collegiate adapted athletics.
The facility will have competition and practice courts, accessible locker rooms, offices, a study hall, a room for team meetings and film study, a players lounge, an athletic training area and space devoted to research. The atrium will showcase the program's accomplishments and history.
With the announcement of the approval of the new facility came acclaim from around the wheelchair athletics community.
"We got a lot of phone calls and congratulatory emails," Hardin said.
UA men's coach Ford Burttram played at Alabama from 2006 through '09 and was a team captain. He then became an assistant for five years before being promoted to head coach.
The Pensacola, Fla., native remembers the early days.
"We were scratching and clawing for everything we got when I was playing," he said. "We've grown leaps and bounds, but we're in the infancy of our sport."
The optimistic projection is that the program will be able to move into its new facility by August 2017. Those who are a part of UA adapted athletics know it will create greater expectations and bigger opportunities.
It will also serve as a beacon to spur other universities to do the same.
"I'm very proud to be a part of the leading program for adapted athletics in the country," Burttram said. "This sets a mark for programs across the nation. What I'm really the happiest for with our university is the recognition from the higher-ups. It's almost like getting their approval."

Reach Tommy Deas at tommy@tidesports.com or at 205-722-0224.
32769
February 25th, 2016
Teen sought in connection to Fairfield shooting; considered extremely dangerous - FAIRFIELD — A Birmingham teen has been charged with capital murder in the shooting death of a Fairfield man killed when he tracked his stolen iPhone.
Fairfield police Chief Leon Davis tells local media that 19-year-old Jamil Deandre Eatmon is being sought for the Sunday night slaying of 33-year-old Jarvaris James. Eatmon remains at large, and Davis says he is considered armed and extremely dangerous.
The shooting occurred outside a church near Miles College. The college was put on lockdown as a precaution, but no students were involved or hurt.
Investigators say James was shot after he used an app to track his iPhone, which had been stolen. Davis says Eatmon and James knew each other.
Eatmon fled the scene in a gold 2015 or 2016 Nissan Maxima with chrome accents.
32768
February 25th, 2016
Woman accused of shooting boyfriend over argument about laptop - A Tuscaloosa woman arrested Wednesday is accused of shooting her boyfriend over an argument about a laptop computer.
Chante Marie Burns, 23, was charged with first-degree assault after the shooting at 8 a.m. Wednesday.
Investigators believe that she shot her boyfriend, 27, in the neck at a residence in the 1400 block of Kicker Road, said Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit assistant commander Lt. Kip Hart.
The injury was not life-threatening.
Burns remained in the Tuscaloosa County Jail Wednesday afternoon with bond set at $15,000.
32767
February 25th, 2016
Kidabaloo tour will be Saturday - Kids will get a chance to meet Nickelodeon star Brec Bassinger of the TV show "Bella and the Bulldogs" and enjoy activities as part of the Kidabaloo tour.
The tour will stop off in Tuscaloosa at the Belk Activity Center, 2101 Bowers Park Drive, on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Featured activities include face painting, balloon art, hula hooping, animals and reptiles, princesses and superheroes and more. Vendors like Kim’s Desserts, Discovery Toys, Northport Police Child IDs and Tiger Rock Martial Arts will also be at the event.
Tickets for kids are $7 online and $10 at the door for general admission, which includes access to all activities and a public meet and greet with Bassinger.
Tickets for adults are $5 general admission.
VIP tickets are $30, which includes a special pre-party and meet and greet with Bassinger plus general admission to the event.
To purchase tickets, go online to www.kidabaloo.com.
32766
February 25th, 2016
Warrant issued in Tuscaloosa dice game shooting -
Investigators have a warrant to charge a man with trying to kill another man during an argument over a dice game.
Scotty Tyrone Anderson, 22, is wanted for attempted murder in connection with the shooting on 23rd Street on Saturday.
Investigators believe that he argued with the victim, 23, about the game or money they had bet.
The victim was shot once in the abdomen.
Police ask that anyone with information contact Tuscaloosa police at 205-349-2121, CrimeStoppers at 205-752-STOP (7867) or the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit at 205-464-8690.
32765
February 25th, 2016
Mercedes led state in auto exports in 2015 - The Mercedes-Benz auto assembly plant in Vance accounted for the lion’s share of Alabama’s auto exports in 2015, according to the Alabama Department of Commerce
The state agency said Alabama's auto exports topped $7 billion last year, setting a new record and a 5.8 percent gain from 2014.
Overseas shipments of Alabama-made motor vehicle parts reached $1.2 billion, an 18 percent increase from 2014.
China was the top export market for Alabama vehicles, growing nearly 9 percent to $2 billion. Canada fell to second place, according to trade
data from the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Germany, Mexico and the United Kingdom rounded the top five for buyers of Alabama vehicles, with also include Hondas made in Lincoln and Hyundais made in Montgomery.
Rapid growth in overseas shipments has propelled Alabama to a No. 3 spot ranking auto-exporting states, trailing only Michigan and South Carolina, according to government data. During the past 15 years, Alabama’s vehicle exports have increased tenfold.
“Alabama’s auto industry has become an exporting powerhouse, with vehicles produced in the state finding markets around the world,” said Greg Canfield, secretary of the Alabama Department of Commerce. “This creates jobs in our state and solidifies the position of the Alabama auto assembly plants in a global business.”
32764
February 25th, 2016
City of Tuscaloosa may buy old county jail - The city of Tuscaloosa may become the new owners of the Old Tuscaloosa County Jail, pending approval by the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education.
On Tuesday night, Mayor Walt Maddox told the Tuscaloosa City Council that he had recently met with City Schools Superintendent Paul McKendrick about the old jail property. Maddox said he was enthusiastic about a potential agreement in which the city would acquire the historic Sixth Street property. Maddox said the city would like to fix up the building and use part of it for public rest rooms for Capitol Park visitors and part of the building as a green room - storage and staging area for events at the park.
On Feb. 9, the council approved a motion to allow Maddox to negotiate with the board about acquiring the property, which has been owned by the school system since 1980.
“They plan on bringing it up the council’s resolution at the next grounds meeting at the board of education,” Maddox said.
The building served as Tuscaloosa County's jail from 1856 to 1890. It became a boarding house in the early 1900s and was a hall for the local Veterans of Foreign Wars group from 1951 to 1979. The building was used for the city school system’s American Studies program from 1980 to 2003. Subsequently, the Capitol School used it until leaving in 2007. The building has been vacant ever since then.
School Board President Lee Garrison said the sale still has to come up to the board for a final decision.
“We don’t have the details yet, but they will bring some type of proposal to us,” Garrison said.
Jeff Johnson, executive director of facilities for Tuscaloosa City Schools, said the city is interested in consolidating the jail to Capital Park, which sits across the street from the property.
“It’s something we are discussing right now, but it still has to go through Dr. McKendrick,” Johnson said.
In 2014, the jail was placed on Alabama’s “Places in Peril” list, compiled by the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation. The report said the school moved out of the building due to “lack of maintenance, potential asbestos problems and building code violations.”
Although Johnson said appraisals of the property are still being done with the property, Garrison said the building and land could possibly be worth $500,000.
The next school board meeting will be March 1.
32763
February 25th, 2016
NPR fundraiser Kitchens of Consequence is Saturday - Six Tuscaloosa homeowners will open their homes to the public on Saturday for tours of their new or newly renovated kitchens as part of the 21st annual Tuscaloosa Tour of Kitchens.
The event, formerly known as Kitchens of Consequence, is a fundraiser by the Board of the Friends of WUAL for listener-supported Alabama Public Radio. Money raised will help fund programming, the purchase of sweepstakes items and more, said Jennifer Davis, membership manager for Alabama Public Radio.
The public can tour the kitchens in any order between 1-4 p.m. on Saturday.
Tickets are $25. They can be purchased online at www.apr.org, at one of the homes on the day of the event, or at Manna Grocery and Deli on McFarland Boulevard in Tuscaloosa;, at Spirits Wine Cellar in Essex Square in Northport and in the Shoppes of Lake Tuscaloosa on Rice Mine Road Northeast; and at V & W Supply on 20th Avenue.
The event includes the tour and music, tablescapes by different area jewelers and designers, and different caterers at each house.
“This is great for individuals looking to remodel. It’s also good for brides as far as caterers go because they get to taste food from six different caterers,” Davis said.
New to the event this year is a booklet that details the renovation or new kitchen with a short write up and photos by a professional photographer. It also lists where the items in the remodel come from and the designers.
Davis said some homeowners have a before and after scrapbook of their renovations.
This year’s featured homes are located in the North River Yacht Club, Waterford, Waterfall and Riverdale neighborhoods.
Homes on the list include Hollie Glover’s home at 9007 Admiralty Lane, Brian and Carla Wilhite’s home at 2908 Buoy Circle, Paul and Brandi Bronold’s home at 6402 Glenn Cove Place, Richard and Jana Henry’s home at 6312 Woodlands Trail Place, Jordan Morris and Daniel Bradshaw’s home at 333 Riverdale Drive and Loy and Sandy Singleton’s home at 2595 McLean Circle.
Caterers include Athena’s Bakery, A Cutting Edge Catering, Southern Ale House, Snap Decisions and Crimson Catering. Two Friends of WUAL board members will cater at one of the houses.
Davis said the event also is “just a nice way for people to get out of the house” on Saturday.
32762
February 25th, 2016
Pelicans spotted on Lake Tuscaloosa - Jill Swindle of Northport took this photo of pelicans standing on a submerged tree log in Lake Tuscaloosa on Wednesday near her Carmel Bay Drive home. Swindle estimated that about 150 to 200 pelicans have gathered at the lake.
32761
February 25th, 2016
Saturday is Seuss to Shakespeare time at the Tuscaloosa Public Library - Saturday brings a celebration of Dr. Seuss, some time with William Shakespeare and the end of a late-fee amnesty program that's been going on all week at the Tuscaloosa Public Library.
In celebration of the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to readers of all ages as Dr. Seuss, the library's main branch on Jack Warner Parkway is hosting a free, two-hour party. Geisel was born March 2, 1904, and died in 1991 at the age of 87.
Starting at 10 a.m., the “Oh, the Places You'll Go!” themed Dr. Seuss birthday party will feature stories, crafts, activities, prizes and games, said Vince Bellofatto, director of communications and public relations for the library.
Some programs will be an “Oh, the Places You'll Go!” craft, a "Red Fish Blue Fish" game, and a "Green Eggs & Ham" race, he said.
As the Seussian party ends, the Shakesperian festivities begin at noon with “An Hour with the Bard.”
To promote its upcoming performance of the Shakespearean classic “A Midsummer Night's Dream,” the Actor's Charitable Theater will hold a reading of Shakespeare's works as well as performances from the play which will beMarch 4-6 at the Bama Theater.
Both events are free and open to the public.
The Tuscaloosa Public Library is one of the organizations that will receive proceeds from the play so the theater group is coming there promote the play and show community support for the library, Bellofatto said.
“It has been a very positive partnership,” he said. “Libraries love Shakespeare.”
Saturday also the final day of the “For the Love of Pets” program, which allows certain library fines to be waived in exchange for a donation of a pet item that will go to local animal shelters.
The amnesty program began Monday and, within two days, had resulted in boxes of donated items and the elimination of more than $875 in fines. Bellofatto said the total is expected to be around $2,000 worth of donated items by the time it ends.
“Fine amnesty is nothing new in the world of libraries,” Bellofatto said. “It is a way to get patrons, who might have stopped visiting and utilizing the library, back through the doors and using services and resources again.
“It is a win-win for (the library) and the patron.”
He said the library typically offers an amnesty program once a year. In the past decade or so, the library has collected school supplies and nonperishable food items.
This is the second pet supplies drive in four years, Bellofatto said.
“One nice result is some patrons with no fines and a clean library card give items just to support the program,” he said. “This program is also the Tuscaloosa Public Library's way of supporting the community and other community partners.”
The amnesty program is available at all of the library's locations: the main branch on Jack Warner Parkway, the Brown Branch at 300 Bobby Miller Parkway and the Weaver Bolden Branch at 2522 Lanier Ave.
Accepted donations include Pedigree dry adult/Purina Adult Dog Chow and Purina Puppy Chow; Purina Indoor Adult Cat Chow; Purina Kitten Chow; canned cat food; heartworm preventative for dogs; topical flea treatment for cats and dogs; pet crates, cages and carriers; kennels; dog houses; cat scratching posts; beds for cats; dog collars and leashes; cat litter boxes; Tidy Cat Premium Scoopable litter; and pet grooming supplies, brushes, nail trimmers, shampoo, etc. No damaged or expired items will be accepted.
For a list of acceptable pet supply items, visit www.tuscaloosa-library.org/for-the-love-of-pets.

Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
32760
February 25th, 2016
Warrant issued in attempted murder case - Investigators have a warrant to charge a man with trying to kill another man during an argument over a dice game.

Scotty Tyrone Anderson, 22, is wanted for attempted murder in connection with the shooting on 23rd Street on Saturday.

Investigators believe that he argued with the victim, 23, about the game or money they had bet.

The victim was shot once in the abdomen.

Police ask that anyone with information contact Tuscaloosa Police at 205-349-2121, CrimeStoppers at 205-752-STOP (7867) or the Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit at 205-464-8690.

32759
February 24th, 2016
GOP candidates to visit Alabama - The Alabama secretary of state’s office says three leading Republican presidential candidates will visit Alabama before next week’s Super Tuesday primaries.

Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio are scheduled to speak at a forum Saturday in Birmingham. Each candidate will be interviewed individually at Samford University’s Wright Center.

Donald Trump is scheduled to visit Huntsville on Sunday, his third campaign stop in the state this election cycle.

Secretary of State John Merrill says he is “thrilled” candidates are visiting Alabama to interact with voters.

Alabama has joined other Southern states in a so-called “SEC Primary” on March 1 to try drawing more interest in the region from presidential candidates.

32758
February 24th, 2016
City schools will sublease land for new school - During its regular Tuesday meeting, the Tuscaloosa City Council unanimously approved a resolution that designated the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education, along with PARA, as a sublessee of 36 acres of property as the site of a new school near Northridge High School.
The construction of a new middle school near Northridge High moved one step closer Tuesday as the city named the city board of education as a designee to sublease property where the school will be built.
During its regular Tuesday meeting, the Tuscaloosa City Council unanimously approved a resolution that designated the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education, along with PARA, as a sublessee of 36 acres of property as the site of a new school near Northridge High School.
The new “north middle school,” will be part of the Northridge High feeder system, which will include Verner Elementary, Rock Quarry Middle and Alberta Elementary. The new school is part of the system’s integrated curriculum facilities analysis demographic strategic plan, which implements several changes throughout the school system such as pay raises, capital improvements and zoning changes.
“This is part of several steps that we are going to have to take to move forward and our projects are on time and on schedule,” said Lee Garrison, school board president.
In December 2012, Gov. Robert Bentley negotiated a deal with the Alabama Department of Mental Health, the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority and Ol’ Colony Golf Complex for the land, which is valued at $3.6 million.
“It was designed by an agreement with the governor that it would be used for school purposes if it was leased by the city or its designee,” said Glenda Webb, Tuscaloosa city attorney. “By the lease, either we have to use it or the city’s designee will use it, but it can only be used for this.”
The unnamed school, which will be completed by 2018 at an estimated cost of $30.8 million, is part of a plan to accommodate a growing number of students in the district.
The school will be built to accommodate nearly 900 students, making it the city's largest middle school, although District 3 school board member Norman Crow said there would likely be between 600 and 700 students in the school the first year or so.
“I think it’s a very good first step because the board has determined we need a new school and this is what we need,” he said.
As part of the strategic plan and new middle school, Rock Quarry Middle will become Rock Quarry Elementary once the new school is completed.
Webb said that ideally, the school board would likely request that the state deed the property to the board of education instead of having it under a lease agreement.
“Until that it is done, they will construct that on a leased property,” Webb said.
Crow said the board would likely discuss the next step of the project during the next school board meeting, which will be March 1.
32757
February 23rd, 2016
At least 3 dead as tornadoes rip Louisiana, Mississippi - KENNER, La. — Tornadoes and severe weather ripped through southern Louisiana and Mississippi on Tuesday, mangling trailers at an RV park, ripping off roofs from buildings and killing at least three people in both states, authorities said. Alabama was spared the wrath of the storm system.
One of the most hard-hit areas appeared to be a recreational vehicle park in the town of Convent, in southern Louisiana. Two people were killed there, said St. James Parish Sheriff Willy Martin, speaking on local television. Authorities were still looking for people believed to be trapped under the debris, Martin said.
Thirty people were injured, and seven of them were in critical condition, he said.
“We never had anything like this; we never had this many people injured in one event, and so much destruction in one event,” Martin told WVUE news. “We won't stop searching until we're satisfied we've searched every pile.”
In Mississippi, officials are still sorting through reports of damage to some buildings, but Vann Byrd of the Lamar County Emergency Management Agency said one person died in a mobile home west of Purvis.
The reported tornadoes are part of a line of severe weather and storms that has ripped through the region.
Tuscaloosa County escaped damage from a powerful storm system, the Emergency Management Agency reported at 9 p.m.
Radar indicated that minor tornadoes touched down north of Reform in Pickens County, in the Ross Bridge area of Jefferson County and near Hackleburg in Marion County. Residents in those areas reported downed trees, roof and other structural damage. No injuries were reported in Alabama as of mid-evening Tuesday.

The National Weather Service will send survey crews to the areas Wednesday, said meteorologist Tara Goggins in Birmingham.
The severe weather threat prompted the University of Alabama and Shelton State Community College to suspend evening operations Tuesday. Tuscaloosa city and county school systems cancelled after-school activities.
At least seven tornadoes hit southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi, said Ken Graham, the meteorologist in charge for the National Weather Service's southeast Louisiana office.
That number includes the one that slammed into the RV park in Convent and one that killed a person near Purvis, Mississippi, he said. Teams will be sent out in the morning to document the damage and rate the tornadoes, he said.
The harsh weather even affected the National Weather Service, Graham said. Lightning took out the radar in their Slidell office, forcing them to use backups, he said.
“We felt the shockwave go through the building,” Graham said.
Earlier Tuesday a reported tornado caused some damage but no injuries near New Orleans' main airport.
Emergency officials and the National Weather Service said the reported tornado was spotted near Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport in the suburban city of Kenner. It was believed to have touched down in a nearby field.
Ronald Myers lives across the street from New Mount Bethel Baptist Church, where and his wife are members. He recalled the sky darkening and high winds — he believes it was a tornado. They came outside when they heard the church's alarm go off.
“My wife came over to turn the alarm off and she came back home and said, 'Baby, the wall behind the church has done fell down,'” said Myers. He said he struggled to keep his footing in the wind, and it nearly knocked his wife down: “I weigh 242 pounds. If it could move me, it was moving.”
High winds sheared the brick and mortar from the rear wall of the church.
Governors in both Louisiana and Mississippi declared states of emergency.
High winds ripped off roofs and downed trees around the greater New Orleans area. Other suspected tornadoes were reported north of Lake Pontchartrain and west of the city in St. Charles and Ascension parishes.
In Kenner, cars were reported damaged at a parking lot near the airport. In Prairieville, between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, heavy damage was reported to some buildings, including a fitness gym.
More than 6 million people in parts of five states — Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Georgia — were in an area of moderate risk for a few strong tornadoes and other severe weather Tuesday, the Storm Prediction Center in Norman, Oklahoma, estimated.
Schools across south Louisiana and Mississippi canceled classes ahead of the storm, sending tens of thousands of students home early to avoid having buses on the road when severe storms arrived.
On Tuesday afternoon, Ken Gibson, an emergency management official in west Alabama, said a storm knocked down trees and damaged at least one home near the rural town of Reform but no one was injured.
The storms began as a line of fierce thunderstorms moved across Texas, raising the risk of tornadoes, hail and damaging winds around several states, forecasters said.
The South Texas storms left thousands of people without power and windows broken after hail the size of golf balls damaged some buildings Monday night, but no one was injured.
In Alabama and Georgia, forecasters issued flash flood watches ahead of the storm system, which was expected to drop 1 to 2 inches of rain, with higher amounts possible in some areas. The warnings, which covered large parts of both states, were expected to be in effect through Wednesday afternoon.
32756
February 23rd, 2016
Pardon denied convicted murderer - The Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles refused to pardon a Tuscaloosa man convicted in a 1990 murder.
Herbert Patton, 45, served 12 years in prison for killing Leonardo Walker in 1990. He received a 20-year sentence after pleading guilty to murder later that year and was granted parole in 2012.
He would not have been eligible for parole before serving at least 15 years under current guidelines.
Patton pistol-whipped Walker, 20, and shot him in the back of the head at a home on 25th Street on Jan. 13, 1990.
A witness testified at a hearing that he said "I told you next time I saw you, I'd kill you," according to a February 1990 Tuscaloosa News story.
Tuscaloosa County District Attorney Lyn Head said that she attended the hearing in Montgomery Tuesday morning with Walker's mother, sister and daughter, who was 2-years-old when her father was killed.
Ex-convicts in Alabama are eligible for a pardon after successfully completing three years of parole.
The board can choose to deny the request, grant a restricted or full pardon.
Pardoned offenses can make it easier for someone to get a job.
Some rights that can be restored by a pardon include gun ownership, the right to vote or run for public office and seek a liquor license.
32755
February 23rd, 2016
Krispy Kreme Challenge to have more than 6,000 doughnuts - On Saturday morning between midnight and 6 a.m., local Krispy Kreme employees will be increasing doughnut production by more than 6,000 doughnuts as they prepare to ship them to Government Plaza for the fourth annual Krispy Kreme Challenge run at 10 a.m.
“Last year it was over 6,000 (doughnuts),” and Evan Smith, owner of Krispy Kreme on McFarland Boulevard, said he expects it to be more this year. “It’s definitely way bigger this year.”
Danielle McInerney, executive director of Big Brothers Big Sisters of West Alabama, said 653 people had registered by Tuesday morning, and she expects more as time gets closer to the event, which is a fundraiser for the organization that pairs mentors with children.
She said there are about 50 children on the waiting list for mentors because it costs about $600 a year to maintain a child-mentor relationship, which includes a background check, a case worker, staff and programming and monthly activity nights for the children and their mentors.
“We already have a record crowd,” McInerney said. “It’s our largest fundraiser of the year, and all the proceeds from the event go to Big Brothers Big Sisters and get children off the list.”
Smith said the organization will give him the final count of runners and teams on Friday around noon, and his crew will begin making the doughnuts in the early morning hours of the event.
That process starts by adding water and yeast to the Krispy Kreme mix. Then it goes into a big mixer for 10 to 12 minutes before resting in a bowl for another 10 minutes. The dough goes into an extruder to make it in the shape of a doughnut and then into a proof box for about 35 minutes to let it rise. The doughnuts are then dropped into the fryer for 90 to 100 seconds before they ride through the glaze system.
Smith said his crew is accustomed to making 2,000 to 2,500 doughnuts a day, but it will take a lot of work to get the extra doughnuts made and in the hands of runners on time.
Runners who take on the Krispy Kreme Challenge have a two-mile run with a break between each mile to gobble down a dozen doughnuts.
Eating the doughnuts is not required to enter the race, but challengers must eat the doughnuts to be eligible for cash prizes – $400 for first place, $300 for second place, $100 for third place for top males and females in the Challengers category.
Krispy Kreme will make doughnut holes for kids participating in the children’s run.
Their challenge is nine doughnut holes.
First responders in the area have also challenged each other’s organizations and will have their own category. The Tuscaloosa fire and police departments and sheriff’s office, and Northport fire and police departments will participate with a large trophy at stake.
Prizes will also be given to individuals with the best costumes, teams with the best costumes, teams with the best names and top finishers.
Teams of four to 12 people are encouraged to enter. A team only has to eat two dozen doughnuts altogether.
An after party will be held at Innisfree immediately following the race.
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.
Runners should see sunny skies for the race on Saturday with a high of 60 degrees according to the National Weather Service in Birmingham.
32754
February 23rd, 2016
Tuscaloosa City Council to vote on Chamber contract - A City Council committee moved Tuesday to renew a $175,000 contract with the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama.
The contract funds economic development and recruitment efforts on the city's behalf, but one city councilman said he does not believe that the city is getting its money's worth.
"I feel like it's a lot of money and I'm still not completely satisfied," Councilman Kip Tyner said during Tuesday's meeting of the council's finance committee.
On a 2-1 vote, with Tyner being the lone opposing vote, the committee recommended that full City Council extend the chamber's contract through Dec. 31.
The full council is expected to vote on the contract extension next week.
First initiated in 2013, the annual contract with the chamber was set to expire Dec. 31, but criticisms from Tyner prompted city leaders to extend the contract for only two months in order to allow chamber officials to respond.
In December, Tyner asked chamber officials for a breakdown how the chamber had used the city's annual $175,000 appropriation.
On Tuesday, he got his answer. The chamber provided council members with a summary of expenses during 2015 that were associated with contract.
This itemized list contained a total of $258,000 in what the chamber described as “cash expenses” – the bulk of which was designated as personnel costs – and another $927,000 in what it labeled “non-cash expenses.”
The majority of the non-cash expenses was related to the chambers “Buy Local” advertising campaign. The chamber said it generates approximately $898,000 in value result from “non-cash trades between the Chamber and vendors” for “television, billboard, radio, magazine and newspaper ads.”
Despite this generalized expense breakdown, Tyner remained unconvinced. He believes not enough effort is being directed toward bringing new businesses to Alberta and District 5, which he represents.
"I am disappointed, because my area is the loser," Tyner said. “I'm speaking up for Alberta and I've seen no results. None."
Jim Page, the chamber's president and CEO, said Tyner's characterization of the chamber's efforts is an unfair one.
While he was pleased that that the contract was extended, Page said there is only so much that the chamber – or any economic development team – can do to steer investors toward any particular area of town.
Page said the chamber highlights Alberta and West Tuscaloosa both during its pitches to potential retailers. But, ultimately, the decision on where to locate belongs to the one making the investment.
“I can't tell a developer or retailer where to go,” he said. “There's really only so much we can do.”
Council President Harrison Taylor, a supporter of the chamber, said he understood the chamber's dilemma and remains supportive of its efforts.
Taylor, who represents portions of West Tuscaloosa, said in his 20-plus years as a city councilman, he recalls no chamber leaders making efforts for his district like those being done now.
"I appreciate where we've been and where we're trying to go," Taylor said. “You just can't plant trees today and pick food in the morning.”
Taylor, along with Councilwoman Cynthia Almond, who chairs the finance committee, cast the votes needed to move the chamber contract from the committee to the full council.
The contract began in 2013 to make up for the elimination of the city's Office of Economic Development.
A realignment of the department that followed the departure of the city's former economic development director reduced the funding the office needed. That money was then directed to the chamber so it could handle the city's economic development efforts.
But now, the city has re-formed its department — complete with a new director and a proposed $515,592 budget for fiscal 2016 — and Tyner has said he believes the funds dedicated for the chamber could be better spent by the city's own team.
“This has been a waste of taxpayer dollars,” Tyner said, adding that the “$175,000 could be used in better ways. We get no return for our investment.”
Must Run in Agate; Bullet individual items.
COUNCIL ACTION
The Tuscaloosa City Council took the following action at its Tuesday meeting:
Authorized execution of Requisition No. 566 for payment from the Series 2007A Warrant Issue; total $8,586.93.
Authorized utility account credits; total $6,234.99.
Declared property surplus and authorized its disposal.
Awarded competitive bid(s) for the purchase, etc. of grand maintenance – various city locations from Billings Outdoor Services; total $525/cut.
Awarded competitive bid(s) for the purchase, etc. of ground maintenance – cemeteries from ABC Lawn Care; total $1,599.50/cut.
Authorized request for street lighting system modifications.
Authorized payment to Alabama Municipal Insurance Corporation; total $2,500.
Set March 29 as the date for public hearing on a proposed vacation of a cul-de-sac abutting Lots 40-45 First Addition to Parkview.
Approved request and agreement for water service to 30th Avenue East Cottage Courts water main extension; total $47,246.97.
Granted permit for Spectrum Properties LLC to construct water lines for 30th Avenue East Cottage Courts water main extension.
Awarded competitive bid(s) for the purchase, etc. of a 4-wheel drive utility vehicle from Tuscaloosa Tractor Inc.; total $17,229.60.
Authorized the filing of a lien at 311 31st Avenue east 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. 3 for Alberta Technology Center construction; total $13,499.53.
Authorized change order No. 1 for Lift Station 21 Interceptor Lower Portion Improvements; time extension 41 calendar days.
Authorized change order No. 1 for the 2015 City Wide Resurfacing Project; time extension 60 calendar days.
Authorized the Office of Resilience and Innovation to amend and advertise amendment to the 2013 CDBG-DR Action Plan of the City of Tuscaloosa.
Authorized the mayor to execute an appraisal contract with Southeast Appraisals Inc. regarding the Rosewood Sanitary Sewer Improvements Project Phase Three; total $4,800.
Authorized the mayor to execute an agreement between the city of Tuscaloosa and the National Museum of the United States Air Force; total not to exceed $10,000.
Authorized an engineering and related services contract with the Cassady Company Inc. for the Riverdale Sanitary Sewer Project; total: not to exceed $123,338.
Authorized the mayor to execute an appraisal contract with Southeast Appraisals, Inc. regarding the Lake Avenue Sanitary Sewer Improvements Project; total $3,600.
Authorized the mayor to execute an agreement with ALDOT for the Adaptive Signal Project.
Authorized a contract with Freeland Security & Associates.
Abandoned certain utility and right-of-way easements located at South 10 Apartments, 1418 10th Ave.
Adopted an amendment of the city’s Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program policies and procedures for Community Planning & Development Programs.
Authorized an amendment to the city’s agreement and Authorized the mayor to execute the amendment agreement with San Inc., dba Turning Point under the City’s 2014 Emergency Solutions Grant Program.
Authorized an amendment to the city’s agreement and Authorized the mayor to execute the amendment agreement with the Salvation Army under the City’s 2014 Emergency Solutions Grant Program.
Authorized the mayor to execute operational agreements with the Tuscaloosa County Public Library and T. A. Lewis & Associates Inc. dba TALA Professional Services regarding the Gateway Alberta’s Innovation + Discovery Center and authorized the Office of Resilience and Innovation to negotiate said agreements and be responsible for the oversite, management and operation of the Gateway.
Designated the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education as its designee to sublease 36 acres of land near Northridge High School from the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority for the construction of a public school facility.
Authorized the finance director to draw drafts for the Highland Oaks Sanitary Sewer Project easement acquisitions; total $3,094.
Authorized the finance director to draw drafts for the First Street East sanitary sewer project easement acquisitions; total $2,733.
Authorized a contract with TTL Inc. to perform testing and related services for the 14th Place East project; total $3,450.
Approved the eighth amendment to the fiscal year 2016 general fund budget.
Amended Exhibits “A” and “B” of Section 19-42/19-60(a) of the Code of Tuscaloosa.
Introduced Zoning Amendment No. 1342 to rezone approximately 2.38 acres located from 400 30th Avenue East to 420 30th Avenue East from RD-1 to RD-2.
Introduced Zoning Amendment No. 1343 to rezone approximately 0.20 acres located at 1509 University Boulevard from R-1 to BNU.
Set March 22 as the day for public hearing to consider adoption of Zoning Amendment No. 1342.
Set March 22 as the day for public hearing to consider adoption of Zoning Amendment No. 1343.
Authorized the payment of bills; total $3,300.67.

Jason Morton can be reached at Jason.morton@tuscalooanews.com or205-722-0200.
32753
February 23rd, 2016
Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre's spring concert this week - The Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre's spring concert will be Wednesday through Saturday in the Morgan Hall Auditorium on the University of Alabama campus.
The group is a pre-professional dance company composed of dance students at UA, performing works choreographed by faculty members and guest choreographers once each semester.
The spring concert includes seven faculty works divided into two acts. The first is a restaging of “Paquita” by faculty member Rita Snyder. Second is a modern duet by Sarah M. Barry featuring six cylindrical metal sculptures by UA art faculty member Craig Wedderspoon. Closing the first act is an all-male contemporary large group piece choreographed by Cornelius Carter.
Opening the second act is a group modern dance work choreographed by Rebecca Salzer. The music, composed by Amir Zaheri, will play through the cellphones of dancers on stage, and audience members are encouraged to play along through their own phones by visiting a link provided in the program. The fifth in the show is a large-group contemporary ballet choreographed by Lawrence Jackson. A ballet duet between a soldier and nurse, choreographed by Qianping Guo, follows.
Closing the show is an all-female musical theater jazz piece choreographed by Stacy Alley.
Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 5:30 p.m. Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and UA faculty and staff, and $14 for students and children. Visit ua.tix.com.
32752
February 23rd, 2016
3-day sales tax holiday this weekend - Residents of Tuscaloosa, Northport and most West Alabama counties can buy certain storm readiness gear this weekend free of state and local taxes.
Alabama’s fifth annual Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday begins at midnight Friday morning and ends 72 hours later.
All day Friday, Saturday and Sunday, shoppers can purchase items including batteries, cell phone chargers, weather radios, first aid kits and more without paying Alabama’s 4 percent sales tax. Counties and municipalities can also waive local taxes, and most areas of West Alabama.
The cities of Tuscaloosa and Northport have passed ordinances that exempt approved items from local taxes this weekend. Bibb, Fayette, Greene, Lamar, Pickens, Sumter and Tuscaloosa counties have done the same. Hale County is not participating and local taxes will still apply there.
The Severe Weather Preparedness Sales Tax Holiday was adopted by the Alabama Legislature in 2012 and takes place every February.
Nancy Dennis, the director of the Alabama Retail Association, said neither the ARA nor the Department of Revenue are able to effectively track participation in the state's tax holidays. She said monthly sale figures indicate the preparedness holidays attract some shoppers who are looking to create or beef up their emergency kits, but the state's "back-to-school" tax holidays in August is much more effective at incentivizing purchases.
A complete list of the exempted items and participating cities and counties can be found on the Alabama Department of Revenue’s website, www.revenue.alabama.gov/salestax/wpsalestaxhol.cfm.
Stephen Dethrage can be reached at stephen.dethrage@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0227.
32751
February 23rd, 2016
Man killed in Skyland Boulevard wrekc - A man was killed in an accident on Skyland Boulevard on Tuesday.
The accident happened in the 3100 block of Skyland Boulevard East at noon.
Victim Felipe Vazquez was driving an older model Honda Civic. He pulled into traffic from a side road and was struck by a Ford F350, said Lt. Teena Richardson, a Tuscaloosa police spokeswoman .
The Honda hit the median and crossed the eastbound lane of traffic before coming to a stop in the front lawn of Townsend Honda. Vazquez was taken to DCH Regional Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Richardson said that Vazquez, from the unincorporated Jefferson County community Alton, was in Tuscaloosa for work. His age wasn't immediately available.
32750
February 23rd, 2016
Storm threat affects local schools - The threat of severe weather led the University of Alabama and Shelton State Community College to suspend evening operations Tuesday.
UA said it would suspend operation at 6:30 p.m. while Shelton State said it would close at 4:30 p.m. A news release from UA says predictions call for the worst weather to hit the Tuscaloosa area between 7 and 8 p.m.
Tuscaloosa city and county schools canceled after-school activities in anticipation of the storm's arrival.
Among events canceled Tuesday night are the Allen Bales Theatre performance of Ibsen's "Ghosts," the Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre's spring concert in Morgan Hall and a Tuscaloosa County Young Republicans town hall forum at the Hotel Capstone.
The Tuscaloosa Public Library said it will close its branches at 4:30 p.m..
The National Weather Service says storms could cause tornadoes and flash flooding throughout much of Alabama.
Meteorologists say they're expecting winds of 20 to 30 mph, with gusts of between 35 and 40 mph in some areas Tuesday. A flash flood watch is also in effect in counties along and north of the I-85 corridor through Wednesday afternoon.
Forecasters say the wind and heavy rain could uproot weak trees and snap branches, and drivers should use extra caution. Meteorologists also say they're expecting the storms to produce large hail in some areas.
Officials say severe storms are expected to develop in the late afternoon and continue through early Wednesday morning.
32749
February 23rd, 2016
Country singer Sonny James dies at 87 - NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Country singer Sonny James, who recorded romantic ballads like “Young Love” and turned pop songs into country hits, has died. He was 87.
James, whose given name was James Loden, died Monday in a Nashville hospice facility, according to a family friend, Gary Robble, who was the lead singer of James’ backing band, the Southern Gentlemen.
The singer born in Hackleburg, Alabama, was known as the “Southern Gentleman” because of his gentle, respectable demeanor. He was also a songwriter as well as a guitarist and fiddler. He started his music career with his family’s band with his parents and his sister, Thelma. Before he reached high school age, he already had performed on several country music radio shows.
As he started his own musical career, Capitol producer Ken Nelson suggested he use a combination of his nickname, “Sonny Boy,” with his first name as his professional name.
In 1956, James scored his biggest hit, “Young Love,” which sold 3 million copies and became a No. 1 hit on the country and pop charts. A decade later, he started an impressive run on top of the country charts with 16 consecutive No. 1 songs between 1967 and 1971.
His other hits included “It’s the Little Things,” “You’re the Only World I Know,” “I’ll Never Find Another You,” “Empty Arms,” “Behind the Tear,” “Take Good Care of Her,” “When the Snow Is on the Roses,” “That’s Why I Love You Like I Do” and “Here Comes Honey Again.”
“Sonny James was one of country music’s greatest. He was a true gentleman and made some of the greatest country music records of all times, certainly some of my favorites,” singer Dolly Parton said in a statement.
Robble said James invited the Southern Gentlemen to record and tour with him, which created a vocal-driven sound based on hit songs from the R&B and pop genre. Some of his popular covers included “Since I Met You Baby,” “Endlessly,” “Running Bear,” “It’s Just a Matter of Time,” “Only the Lonely” and “Only Love Can Break a Heart.”
“Sonny made country music more commercial,” Robble said. “He wasn’t trying to. He was singing what he enjoyed singing.”
James was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2006.
In the 1960s, he made several motion pictures, including “Second Fiddle to a Steel Guitar,” “Las Vegas Hillbillies” (with Jayne Mansfield) and “Hillbilly in a Haunted House” (with Basil Rathbone and Lon Chaney Jr.). He then went on to produce Marie Osmond’s first records, including her biggest country hit, “Paper Roses.”
Osmond tweeted, “Country Music Hall of Famer, producer & lifelong friend (hashtag) SonnyJames. U will be missed! (hastag) RIP.” She included a video link to James performing “Young Love” on the “Donny & Marie” show in the 1970s.
He was the first co-host of the Country Music Association Awards show with Bobbie Gentry in 1976.
He recorded some pioneering albums: “200 Years of Country Music” in 1976 chronicled country music and took more than a year to plan, research and record. “Sonny James In Prison, In Person” was recorded in 1977 with inmates at the Tennessee State Prison, while “The Astrodome Presents the Southern Gentlemen” in 1969 was the first live album recorded there. His “Little Bit South of Saskatoon,” which he wrote, was used as theme music for the movie “Slap Shot” starring Paul Newman.
He retired in the mid-1980s, because of vocal issues, according to Robble. He is survived by his wife, Doris.
32748
February 23rd, 2016
Jaguars, Falcons battled until the last seconds - MONTGOMERY -- Sumter Central High School outlasted Central in a Class 5A, regional semifinal contest with a 38-36 victory at Alabama State University's Dunn-Oliver Acadome on Monday afternoon.
The Jaguars (30-2) advance to play Booker T. Washington on Thursday at 10:45 a.m.
"This is the closest one we've had all year, and we've been fighting," Sumter Central coach Jazmin Mitchell said. "I give applause to Central. He set in that 3-2 (zone) and stayed on us. Coach (Robert) Watson, he is an excellent coach. He does a good job with Central, but my boys overcame, made free throws down the stretch and won the game."
Sumter Central senior Kasaun Hogan finished with six steals, including a pick with less than 30 seconds remaining, forcing Central, trailing 37-34, to foul.
"When I had the ball, I said, slow the ball down. No need to rush," Hogan said. "We are already up, so we just slowed the ball down."
Senior David Law went 7 of 9 from the free throw -- 5 of 6 in the fourth quarter -- on his way to a 15 point performance. He hit a free throw with 1.3 seconds remaining to make it a two point game, 38-36.
"If I don't hit it, they might have another chance, so I knew I had to make it," Law said.
It was a back-and-forth defensive battle the entire afternoon. Central's defense held Sumter Central to five points in the second quarter to trail by two, 17-15, at halftime. The Falcons had a one point lead at the end of the third quarter, 28-27.
"We press all year. We call it all gas, no brakes," Mitchell said. "We practice hard just like that, play defense for 32 minutes, and you've got to play. Coach Watson did an excellent job in that 3-2. He slowed me down. He slowed me all the way down."
For Central (21-13), Ky'Andre Jackson finished with 12 points and three blocks. Ke'darrius Tinker finished with 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Kendrall Walker finished with six rebounds and five assists, and Kianni Coleman had six rebounds. Sumter Central's Desmond Law finished with eight points and three steals.
Watson and Mitchell hugged after the game during the handshake line. The game marked the end of Watson's coaching career. He is retiring after 15 years at the helm of the Falcons program. During that time, he made 12 appearances in the Sweet 16.
"Jaz, I consider him a friend, and we compete now just like two brothers in a yard. We fiercely compete against each other, so it was nice to go out playing against him," Watson said. "I guess if you have to go out, you'd rather go out against someone you are playing from West Alabama, but I enjoyed the game. I thought we played well enough to win, but we missed too many free throws."
Reach Joey Chandler at joey.chandler@tuscaloosanews.com or at 205-722-0223.
32747
February 22nd, 2016
Alabama's height wasn't on its side as it fell to Gamecocks - The Alabama women's basketball team's hands were high, but they weren't high enough as the team fell to No. 3 South Carolina, 66-46, Monday night.
With the majority of its team over six feet tall, three players being at least 6-foot-4, the Gamecocks had an advantage under the basket, outrebounding the Crimson Tide, 58-31. South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said heights been something the team has had on its side for the past couple of years, and Monday night, it paid off once again.
But Alabama won't use something such as height to justify its loss.
“You can't use that as an excuse,” sophomore Karyla Middlebrook said. “You can't run from it.”
Alabama knew the height was coming even before South Carolina stepped foot into Foster Auditorium. It had a game plan - box out - but the plan failed. Sophomore Meoshonti Knight said it got frustrating trying to box out someone who's taller, but regardless, Alabama needs to be able to push any opponent out and get the rebound.
Alaina Coates was a force to be reckoned with for South Carolina. Standing at 6-foot-4, the junior totaled a career-high 18 rebounds, 13 of which were defensive.
“I kind of noticed they weren't being as aggressive boxing out so I kind of just took that opportunity to get the long rebounds and just being more aggressive, offensively and defensively,” Coates said.
Along with Coates, two other Gamecocks finished in double digits for rebounds. Senior Khadijah Sessions racked up 11 and sophomore A'ja Wilson had 10.
Alabama coach Kristy Curry said South Carolina did a great job defensively with its players taking advantage of their size, squaring off their shoulders and being aggressive to get rebounds.
Although Alabama was able to prevent the highly ranked Gamecocks from taking off and scoring point after point, it was still another loss for the books.
“I just don't see it as a moral victory,” Curry said. “I think we all showed up (Monday night) expecting to win, and it doesn't matter what's across the other team's chest.”
With how South Carolina was playing, especially under the basket, Curry said the team had to counter with making shots, but it failed to do so.
It didn't matter if the Alabama took more shots than South Carolina. It was unable to convert. The Crimson Tide hit 18-of-63 shots from the field, while the Gamecocks made 23-of-60.
“You know that you got those opportunities,” Middlebrook said. “You have to the ability to fix that yourself. It's not something South Carolina prevented us from doing.”
Freshman Shaqera Wade was the only Alabama player to reach double digits, scoring 11 points. Alabama's leading scorer, sophomore Hannah Cook, struggled Monday night as the only shot she made was a 3-pointed during the fourth quarter.
South Carolina had three players finish in double digits. Wilson led with 16, followed by Coates with 13 and senior Tiffany Mitchell with 10.
“I was pleased with the way our kids competed,” Curry said. “We just got to make shots.”
32746
February 22nd, 2016
Sewell seeks action on nominees - U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell is ready for the U.S. Senate to confirm an appeals court judge, give President Barack Obama's pending nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court a fair consideration and supports former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's bid for the White House.
Sewell, D-Selma, who represents Alabama's 7th District in the U.S. House of Representatives, made those comments Monday in Tuscaloosa after a “Congress in Your Community” stop at the McDonald Hughes Community Center.
About 100 residents filled a meeting room at the community center on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard to hear Sewell, who gave updates on potential legislation expected to come up in 2016 as well as matters that came before Congress last year.
“The American people do not need Congress to be dysfunctional,” Sewell said. “But during a presidential election year, you're going to see a lot more talk than action -- if that's possible.”
Sewell said she approves of President Obama's nomination earlier this month of U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon of the Northern District of Alabama to fill Alabama's vacancy on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The president's nomination of Kallon, which must gain approval in the Senate, was met with opposition from Alabama's Republican senators, Jeff Sessions of Mobile and Richard Shelby of Tuscaloosa.
Shelby, who is in the midst of a re-election campaign, and Sessions both supported Kallon's nomination to the District Court in 2009, but now they are opposed to his posting to the appellate court -- one step below the nation's highest court -- according to a joint statement the Senators released on Feb. 11.
Sewell is urging Shelby and Sessions to support the confirmation of Kallon and eliminate the two-year vacancy on the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.
“It's been deemed a judicial emergency,” Sewell said. “I don't think judicial appointments should be partisan.”
Likewise, Sewell said she hopes Obama names a replacement for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died on Feb. 13.
Should Obama follow through on his statement that he will make an appointment to replace Scalia, Sewell said she believes Shelby, Sessions and the rest of the U.S. Senate should give the nominee fair consideration and not allow November's presidential election to be a factor.
“I think hiding behind that is not the best way to move forward,” Sewell said.
As for the presidential election, Sewell said she and her fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus Political Action Committee support Clinton.
The goal of the PAC, which officially endorsed the former first lady on Feb. 11, is “to increase the number of African-Americans in the U.S. Congress, support non-Black candidates that champion our interests and promote African-American participation in the political process-with an emphasis on young voters,” according to its website.
Sewell said she believes Clinton is the most qualified for the job.
“No one else has the experience and across-the-board expertise to be president from Day One,” she said.
In other matters, Sewell said she would support efforts to remove the toll from the Tuscaloosa Bypass, thereby promoting growth and expansion into western Tuscaloosa.
The bridge is now owned by American Roads LLC, a privately-held owns and operates toll road facilities in the United States and Canada, the company's website said.
To eliminate the toll, the bridge likely would have to be purchased by a public entity.
Still on the topic of transportation, Sewell said she was proud to support the $325 billion transportation bill that the U.S. House and Senate approved last year.
The bill, which calls for spending $261 billion on highways and $55 billion on public transportation services, also includes an allocation for the Tuscaloosa Transit Authority to meet its federal funding needs for the next five years.
For this, Russell Lawrence, executive director of the transit authority, presented Sewell a plaque bearing one of the authority's “Trolley Stop” signs in appreciation for the funding support.
“I think all of us will agree,” Sewell said, “that when we invest in better infrastructure, it helps in the recruitment and retention of industry.”
And Sewell also criticized being forced to vote again last year to maintain the benefits of the Affordable Care Act.
It marked more than 60 times that a move to eliminate ACA, or ObamaCare, had come to a vote on the House floor.
“In a great country like America, no one should be forced to go without quality, affordable healthcare,” Sewell said. “Every time we vote on this, we are spending the taxpayers' money.
“We should be about the business of trying to improve it instead of trying to kill it.”
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
32745
February 22nd, 2016
Petition seeks to honor 'Mockingbird' author - On Friday, within hours of the news that Pulitzer Prize-winning author Harper Lee had died, a petition was started to rename the building housing the English department at the University of Alabama in her honor.
The petition started on the site Change.org by a UA student calls for Morgan Hall to be renamed Lee Hall after the UA alumna and author of “To Kill a Mockingbird,” who died Friday at 89. As of Monday afternoon, the petition had more than 2,000 supporters. The petition argues the move is a chance to show university support for racial equality while honoring Lee’s legacy.
“Lee was doubtless the university's greatest contribution to literature, and it would be more than fitting for our English building to bear her name, which reflects so much more accurately the values of the University of Alabama, than that of white supremacist John Tyler Morgan,” the petition reads.
Morgan, an outspoken white supremacist, was a Confederate officer and later a U.S. senator.
The university said it was aware of the petition on Monday.
“We share in the respect and admiration for Ms. Lee. She was one of our own, and she will continue to serve as an inspiration for many generations. In the past, buildings on our campus have been named for men and women whose contributions to the university and society were viewed through the context of the times they lived. Their history does not define us. Rather, it informs us and moves us forward,” the university said in a statement released Monday.
The university indicated the topic would be heard as part of the strategic planning process. However, the decision on renaming campus buildings ultimately resides with the UA System board of trustees.
UA replaced Morgan’s portrait in the building with an exhibit from a collection of African-American art in December. Changing building names or at least acknowledging their namesake’s racist history has been part of ongoing discussions about inclusion and diversity on campus in recent years.
32744
February 22nd, 2016
Decision nears on new digital library - Tuscaloosa Mayor Walter Maddox told the Tuscaloosa Public Library's board of trustees that a decision regarding the library in the operations of the city's new digital library could come as early as today.
Maddox was an invited guest for the board's monthly meeting on Monday and said the City Council is expected to vote on a joint operations agreement for The Gateway – Alberta's Innovation and Discovery Center during tonight's council meeting.
The agreement would combine the efforts of the Tuscaloosa Public Library and Tala Professional Services. Tala is the technology and management consulting firm that was hired by the city in September to install and design the interactive computer components that visitors to The Gateway will use to access and download information.
“It's really an exciting venue,” Maddox said. “Now we just have to leverage it to be a resource for the community.”
The Gateway is the $2.8 million facility now under construction off University Boulevard in Alberta.
It will feature more than $1.4 million in large computer screens, interactive tables and kiosks that patrons of the center will use to access a trove of information.
In addition to the technological offerings, The Gateway also is expected to have a coffee shop and child activity center, but neither Tala nor the library is expected to operate the coffee shop.
Rick Freemon, executive director of the Tuscaloosa Public Library, has been involved with the negotiations involving Tala, the city and the library over The Gateway's operations.
Freemon told library board members that, if the agreement is approved by the City Council, the library's role would be to provide database and information services to The Gateway.
The library already has paid for subscriptions to many of these services for every member of Tuscaloosa County.
“It makes no sense for The Gateway to have a separate account and pay these fees over again,” Freemon said.
Additionally, the preliminary agreement calls for the city to provide extra funding to the library to hire a part-time employee to work at The Gateway as well as subscribe to additional databases and information portals, such as the World Book Encyclopedia.
“I think it's a workable proposition,” Freemon said.
The board of trustees also received an update on the search for a director of human resources.
This new position, created by a vote of the board last year, act as a liaison between employees, management and the board. The position is expected to pay between $50,000 and $70,000 a year.
The library began seeking applications for the role earlier this month. The application window for the position ends March 11.
As of noon on Monday, two applications had been received for the director of human resources position.
But when questioned by the board over whether filling the position is required, Freemon said the board was under no obligation to make the hire if no applicant was qualified or otherwise failed to meet the needs of the board.
According to the job description developed by the board's personnel committee, the director of human resources will be responsible for several duties, including the development and implementation of employee compensation, performance evaluation systems and training programs for library workers.
The director also will act as a the first line of communication between management and employees over questions and concerns that relate to personnel matters. Right now, those concerns often are taken directly to board of trustee members.
Reach Jason Morton at jason.morton@tuscaloosanews.com or 205-722-0200.
32743
February 22nd, 2016
Event puts spotlight on lucrative jobs - West Alabama residents interested in the welding trade are invited by the Tuscaloosa Joint Apprentice Training Center to attend the annual Meet and Greet Industry Day from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday at the Local 372 apprenticeship facility in Duncanville.
The meet-and-greet event will offer attendees the opportunity to get acquainted with experienced welding instructors and major manufacturers of the most up-to-date welding equipment from all over the country. In addition to the meet-an-greet, the annual two-day welding teacher training that will take place Thursday and Friday The teacher training that follows will also offer live welding demonstrations, as well as the chance to meet with representatives of employment agencies. Both the meet-and-greet and training are open to the public and admission is free. Free food will be provided on all three days.
Bob Kimbrell, president of the Resource Center for Technology, a nonprofit technical education center in Northport, worked with the training center for more than 20 years and helps coordinate the annual event. A retired welder with nearly 50 years experience, Kimbrell said the occasion is a good way for aspiring welders to see the opportunities in an increasingly lucrative profession. He said welders can find jobs in a variety of growing industrial fields, such as the building of rigs and ships in southern Alabama.
“It’s the hottest thing on the market, especially in Alabama,” Kimbrell said. “The industry has expanded so that the demand for the trained welder can’t be met.”
Randall Kelly, a retired welder of nearly 40 years and organizer at the training center, said that after completing an apprenticeship like the five-year program the center offers, welders can start out making more than $30 an hour. Apprentices at the center begin making an hourly wage that increases with each year of training, he said.
“When you compare it to the average college graduate, it’s about two to two-and-a-half times that salary,” Kelly said.
Training demonstrations on Thursday and Friday will focus on areas such as welding safety.
He also said it is a great venue for welders and instructors to come out and see the newest and most efficient equipment in the field.
“You get to use the latest and greatest,” Kelly said. “This might be the first time they show it.”
There will also be an emphasis on virtual welding, and attendees will have the opportunity to use a virtual welding simulator during the event. Kelly said the interactive nature of the training is important, adding that local high school students are among the groups invited.
“Everything is hands-on here,” Kelly said. “You’re not just standing around watching somebody do something. You’re doing it, too.”
Welders are encouraged to bring safety glasses, welding shields and boots. The Thursday and Friday training sessions will run from 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m. on both days, at the 372 Local Apprenticeship Training Center, at 9410 U.S. Highway 82 E.
32742
February 22nd, 2016
Donald Trump planning another campaign stop in Alabama - HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Secretary of State’s office says Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is planning another campaign stop in Alabama.
Secretary of State John Merrill said in an emailed statement Monday that Trump is scheduled to visit Huntsville on Sunday. Southern states including Alabama have banded together in a so-called “SEC Primary” on March 1 to try drawing more interest in the region from presidential contenders.
Merrill says the visit will be Trump’s third campaign stop in Alabama, and his visit to Mobile in August was the largest single event for a candidate of either party during this election cycle.
Merrill says tickets to the free event at Black Hall Aerospace can be found online.
32741
February 22nd, 2016
Suspect sought in dice game shooting - A man was shot during an argument over a dice game early Saturday morning, investigators say.
Police are searching for suspected gunman Scotty Tyrone Anderson, 22. Witnesses told investigators that Anderson argued with the victim, 23, at a residence in the 3400 block of 23rd Street, said Lt. Kip Hart, Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit assistant commander.
The victim and suspect know one another, Hart said, and had been playing dice and gambling.
"We're looking, so if he wants to give us his side of the story, we'd appreciate it now," Hart said. "If not, we'll go find him."
The victim was shot once in the abdomen and is expected to survive, Hart said.
Investigators asked for the public's assistance to locate Anderson. He is 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs around 125 pounds. He is considered a "person of interest," Hart said. Investigators do not have warrants for his arrest.
32740
February 22nd, 2016
Suspect sought in store robbery - Tuscaloosa police are searching for a man who robbed a convenience store on Hackberry Lane Saturday.
The man was caught on video near the entrance of the store in the 1600 block of Hackberry. Police asked for anyone who recognizes him to call Tuscaloosa Police at 205-349-2121, CrimeStoppers at 205-752-STOP (7867) or TPD investigators at 205-248-4520.
32739
February 22nd, 2016
Candidate forum to be held tonight - Tuscaloosa County Young Republicans is hosting a town hall forum tonight Tuesday night for all Republican candidates running for office.
The event is scheduled at 6 p.m. at Hotel Capstone, 320 Paul W. Bryant Drive.
Admission is free. Participants will have an opportunity to ask questions of the candidates who attend.
All Republican candidates running in the March 1 primary election have been invited.

32738
February 22nd, 2016
Man charged with sexual assault - A Northport woman told officers that she was sexually assaulted at her residence Saturday.
The woman, 30, told police that she knows the suspect and that he was at her residence on West Circle that day, said Lt. Kip Hart, Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit assistant commander. She went to sleep while he was still there, he said.
She realized that she had been sexually assaulted when she awakened, he said.
Investigators charged Jerry Lemat Bates, 31, with first-degree rape. He remained in the Tuscaloosa County Jail Monday with bond set at $60,000.
32737
February 22nd, 2016
Severe weather expected Tuesday - BIRMINGHAM — Forecasters say they expect severe weather beginning Tuesday as a storm system moves into Alabama, especially in southern parts of the state where tornadoes could strike.
The National Weather Service says a large part of the state — including Birmingham, Montgomery, Mobile, Auburn and Tuscaloosa — will be under an “elevated” threat from storms late Tuesday afternoon through early Wednesday morning.
The weather service said the elevated threat area, which extends south from Birmingham's northern suburbs, could see tornadoes, winds of up to 70 mph, and quarter-sized hail.
Forecasters say the best chances for severe weather will be in Alabama's southern counties.
Forecasters say strong to severe storms will be possible as early as 4 p.m. Tuesday in western Alabama until around 4 a.m. Wednesday in eastern parts of the state.
32736
February 22nd, 2016
Dice game leads to shooting, authorities say - A man was shot during an argument over a dice game early Saturday morning, investigators say.
Police are searching for suspected gunman Scotty Tyrone Anderson, 22. Witnesses told investigators that Anderson argued with the victim, 23, at a residence in the 3400 block of 23rd Street, said Lt. Kip Hart, Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit assistant commander.
The victim was shot once in the abdomen and is expected to survive, Hart said.
Investigators asked for the public's assistance to locate Anderson. He is 5 feet, 4 inches tall and weighs around 125 pounds. He is considered a "person of interest," Hart said. Investigators do not have warrants for his arrest.
32735
February 22nd, 2016
Holt man accused of shooting into home - A Holt man accused of firing shots into a home he had broken into was arrested Sunday after wrecking his car and hiding in a nearby house, investigators said.
Investigators believe that Jeremy Scott Crews, 26, broke into a home on Ridge Avenue at 4:30 a.m. in search of the homeowner's son, said Lt. Kip Hart, Tuscaloosa County Metro Homicide Unit assistant commander.
Hart said that Crews exited the house and fired shots before driving to Covered Bridge Road, where he wrecked his vehicle. Tuscaloosa County sheriff's deputies later found him hiding in a house of South Brook Loop in Brookwood.
Crews was charged with first-degree burglary and discharging a gun into an occupied dwelling. He remained in the Tuscaloosa County Jail on Monday with bond set at $75,000.
32734
February 22nd, 2016
Robert 'Bob' Corlew to visit Tuscaloosa Area Lions Club Monday - The Tuscaloosa Area Lions Club will welcome the first vice president of the Lions Clubs International Monday.
Robert “Bob” Corlew will visit club members at 11 a.m. today at Mr. Bill's Family Dining, 2715 McFarland Blvd. in Northport.
Local Lions Clubs are part of Lions Clubs International, one of the world's largest service club organizations with 1.35 million members in around 46,000 clubs in 206 countries and geographical areas around the world.
Since 1917, Lions Clubs have aided the blind and visually impaired and made a strong commitment to sight preservation and community service throughout the world.
32733
February 22nd, 2016
Storms possible Tuesday night - The National Weather Service predicts a chance of severe weather in the Tuscaloosa area on Tuesday.
Meteorologists say there will be a 70 percent chance of rain Tuesday afternoon with storms developing Tuesday night. The forecast calls for a 90 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms Tuesday with the possibility of winds up to 60 miles per hour, quarter size hail and a limited threat of tornadoes developing.
Tuesday's high temperature will be in the 70s, with lows Tuesday night in the 50s.
32732
February 22nd, 2016
Jerry Tingle has two challengers in County Commission District 2 - Tuscaloosa County District 2 Commissioner Jerry Tingle faces two opponents – Duane Garner and Wendy Abston Bush -- in the March 1 Republican primary.
There is no Democratic challenger, so the primary or a possible run-off will determine who takes the seat.
Tingle has served on the commission since 2012.
“My experience… provide(s) me with a unique view of county government and the way it can effectively serve the communities within the district,” Tingle said.
Tingle was a designer, manufacturer and local business owner for 30 years before he retired. He said he has also had long-time involvement with the Tuscaloosa County School System, the Chamber of Commerce of West Alabama and Tuscaloosa County businesses and has served in the community as a councilman and commissioner.
During his time holding the District 2 seat, he said he has allocated funds for county schools including Brookwood High School, the Alberta bridge, the Tuscaloosa Tennis Facility, two parks and multiple park projects, and almost $12 million in sewer and water projects have been completed.
He said more than 35 roads and streets have been paved, too, during his time in office.
Tingle said projects he wants to continue working on if he is re-elected include a Vance overpass and a connector road to Vance Blocton Road, a new Holt High School and a Holt senior center, finishing Bama Rock Garden and development of an East Tuscaloosa County Activity Center.
All three candidates said creating and improving roads is a major goal.
Garner said one of his top priorities is finishing the Brookwood Parkway project, which will pick up where the current stretch of Brookwood Parkway ends at George Newell Road and connect close to Alabama Highway 216 near Brookwood High School on George Richmond Parkway.
Bush said improving roads, ditches, culverts and safe bus routes are her goals.
Bush currently holds Place 1 on the Coaling Town Council. She said she has been learning as much as she can about municipal procedures by attending workshops, meetings and working to become a certified municipal officer.
Bush received a medic license from the University of Alabama. She started working for the Brookwood Volunteer Fire Department and the city ambulance and helped start Brookwood Ambulance.
She said she and her husband moved to Coaling and helped incorporate the town and after that they continued as a volunteer medics and firefighters.
She said her knowledge from working hands-on within the community will allow her to better serve as a county commissioner.
“I will work hard for each and every one no matter where or what part of the district you live in,” Bush said. “My first goal is to get all of District 2 working together.”
She said her other goals include working with the city of Tuscaloosa and other municipalities within District 2 to enhance sewer service to allow for growth in the county, working with the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff's Office to allow trusties to pick up litter year round and working with the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education to ensure that children receive the best education possible.
Garner said his goals, in addition to finishing Brookwood Parkway, include providing communities in District 2 with adequate fire and ambulance coverage along with storm shelters for communities that lack them.
He said his time as a former Brookwood town council member and as a former member of the Brookwood Park Board qualify him for the commissioner seat.
He said he gained leadership experience working with the public and managing employees as a manager of Edwards Chevrolet Body Shop and as the owner of Dewey's BBQ in Brookwood.
“I had a general manager at Edwards Chevrolet, and he told me one time, 'If you are in a 20-minute conversation, you should listen for 15 minutes and talk for five. You would be surprised how much you could learn,'” Garner said. “I do not have all the answers, but I am willing to listen and see if we can fix our issues” in District 2.
District 2 encompasses the eastern part of Tuscaloosa County, including Holt, Cottondale, Brookwood, Vance and Coker.
32731
February 22nd, 2016
Tuscaloosa City Council agenda for February 23 - The Tuscaloosa City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers on the second floor of City Hall, 2201 University Blvd. The following items will be on the agenda:
Authorizing execution of Requisition No. 566 for payment from the Series 2007A Warrant Issue; total $8,586.93.
Authorizing utility account credits; total $6,234.99.
Declaring property surplus and authorizing its disposal.
Awarding competitive bid(s) for the purchase, etc. of grand maintenance – various city locations from Billings Outdoor Services; total $525/cut.
Awarding competitive bid(s) for the purchase, etc. of ground maintenance – cemeteries from ABC Lawn Care; total $1,599.50/cut.
Authorizing request for street lighting system modifications.
Authorizing payment to Alabama Municipal Insurance Corporation; total $2,500.
Setting March 29 as the date for public hearing on a proposed vacation of a cul-de-sac abutting Lots 40-45 First Addition to Parkview.
Approving request and agreement for water service to 30th Avenue East Cottage Courts water main extension; total $47,246.97.
Granting permit for Spectrum Properties LLC to construct water lines for 30th Avenue East Cottage Courts water main extension.
Awarding competitive bid(s) for the purchase, etc. of a 4-wheel drive utility vehicle from Tuscaloosa Tractor Inc.; total $17,229.60.
Authorizing the filing of a lien at 311 31st Avenue east 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. 3 for Alberta Technology Center construction; total: $13,499.53.
Authorizing change order No. 1 for Lift Station 21 Interceptor Lower Portion Improvements; time extension 41 calendar days.
Authorizing change order No. 1 for the 2015 City Wide Resurfacing Project; time extension 60 calendar days.
Authorizing the Office of Resilience and Innovation to amend and advertise amendment to the 2013 CDBG-DR Action Plan of the City of Tuscaloosa.
Authorizing the mayor to execute an appraisal contract with Southeast Appraisals Inc. regarding the Rosewood Sanitary Sewer Improvements Project Phase Three; total: $4,800.
Authorizing the mayor to execute an agreement between the city of Tuscaloosa and the National Museum of the United States Air Force; total not to exceed $10,000.
Authorizing an engineering and related services contract with the Cassady Company Inc. for the Riverdale Sanitary Sewer Project; total: not to exceed $123,338.
Authorizing the mayor to execute an appraisal contract with Southeast Appraisals, Inc. regarding the Lake Avenue Sanitary Sewer Improvements Project; total $3,600.
Authorizing the mayor to execute an agreement with ALDOT for the Adaptive Signal Project.
Authorizing a contract with Freeland Security & Associates.
Abandoning certain utility and right-of-way easements located at South 10 Apartments, 1418 10th Ave.
Adopting an amendment of the city’s Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Program policies and procedures for Community Planning & Development Programs.
Authorizing an amendment to the city’s agreement and authorizing the mayor to execute the amendment agreement with San Inc., d/b/a Turning Point under the City’s 2014 Emergency Solutions Grant Program.
Authorizing an amendment to the city’s agreement and authorizing the mayor to execute the amendment agreement with the Salvation Army under the City’s 2014 Emergency Solutions Grant Program.
Authorizing the mayor to execute operational agreements with the Tuscaloosa County Public Library and T. A. Lewis & Associates Inc. d/b/a TALA Professional Services regarding the Gateway Alberta’s Innovation + Discovery Center and authorizing the Office of Resilience and Innovation to negotiate said agreements and be responsible for the oversite, management and operation of the Gateway.
Designating the Tuscaloosa City Board of Education as its designee to sublease 36 acres of land near Northridge High School from the Tuscaloosa County Park and Recreation Authority for the construction of a public school facility.
Authorizing the finance director to draw drafts for the Highland Oaks Sanitary Sewer Project easement acquisitions; total: $3,094.
Amending Exhibits “A” and “B” of Section 19-42/19-60(a) of the Code of Tuscaloosa.
Introducing Zoning Amendment No. 1342 to rezone approximately 2.38 acres located from 400 30th Avenue East to 420 30th Avenue East from RD-1 to RD-2.
Introducing Zoning Amendment No. 1343 to rezone approximately 0.20 acres located at 1509 University Boulevard from R-1 to BNU.
Setting March 22 as the day for public hearing to consider adoption of Zoning Amendment No. 1342.
Setting March 22 as the day for public hearing to consider adoption of Zoning Amendment No. 1343.
Authorizing the payment of bills; total $3,300.67.
32730
February 21st, 2016
Sprayberry Education Center art show proceeds will help buy essential equipment - The Sprayberry Education Center will host its 12th annual art show and silent auction on March 10 at the Northport Civic Center, 3500 McFarland Blvd.
All proceeds generated by the art show will be used to buy new therapeutic equipment and activities for the school's sensory and motor rooms. The show will feature about 100 pieces created by students and staff in Sprayberry's multiple needs, autism classes. Art created by students at Sipsey Valley middle and high school students will also be on disply, the third straight year those schools have contributed to Sprayberry's art show.
Sprayberry will be moving from Rice Mine Road to its newly renovated location, the former Lloyd Wood Middle School at 2314 Ninth St. in Northport in August and money raised through the art show will help purchase two sensory rooms for the new site that will give the kids a more hands-on learning experience.
“The equipment these kids need is so specialized … everything has to be adaptive … so when we go over there (new location), we really want it to be a place where these kids can do more than what they're doing,” said Traci Hollyhand, a preschool teacher who has been with Sprayberry for 19 years. Hollyhand has been an overseer of the art show since it began.
She said she hopes more people will come to the art show and show their support for the center's students.
John Ryland has an emotional attachment to Sprayberry and its art work. His late daughter, Madison, attended Sprayberry, and he feels as if attending the art show keeps him connected to the school.
“Seeing them (students) overcome the obstacles in their lives to create something beautiful is a parallel of their lives,” Ryland said. “We love the art show and hope it goes on for many years.”
To the students, faculty, and parents of Sprayberry, the art show is much more than a fundraiser. It's a time for the students to see their work displayed and earn praise. Hollyhand said that the positive reinforcement can help make a breakthroughs in the students' lives and money generated from the silent auction will help them when they relocate.
“I think these kids deserve everything and I would love to be able to give it to them,” Hollyhand said.
Admission to the art show, which will begin at 6 p.m. March 10, is free. All art work will be for sale at the silent auction after the art show.
Refreshments will also be served.
32729
February 21st, 2016
LOOKING BACK: February 22 - - Dr. E. Neige Todhunter, dean of the School of Home Economics at the University of Alabama, was named winner of a $500 award and an encased George Washington Honor Medal from the Freedoms Foundation at Valley Forge.
- Thomas P. Hester, a First National Bank vice president, was chosen “Outstanding Jaycee of the Year” at the Junior Chamber of Commerce banquet.
- More than 20 kitchen workers at Tuscaloosa High School walked off their jobs 10 minutes before the start of the lunch period, leaving the cafeteria without an adequate staff to feed the more than 1,700 students. Principal Harold Greer called in home economics classes to serve the already prepared food and to clean up afterwards. The walkout was triggered by an incident earlier in the morning when two or three workers were asked to pay for food found among their personal possessions in the locker room.
- Tuscaloosa County native Lurleen Wallace announced her intention to run for governor of Alabama.
- Ralph Brown, chiropractor, filed for re-election in Place No. 3 in the House of Representatives. Jesse Hall filed as a candidate for the post, as well.
- Bert Bank, radio station owner, entered the race for Place No. 4 in the House of Representatives in Tuscaloosa County. Two others, C.W. “Bill” Brown and J.R. Stallworth had already filed to seek the House seat. Ralph Burroughs, attorney, also joined the race.
- John Love, a jeweler, would seek Place No. 5 on the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education.
- James L. Frazier, salesman for a steel tank firm, qualified in the Democratic primary as a candidate for the State Senate from Tuscaloosa County. Joseph Colquitt, a newcomer to politics, was also seeking the post, as well as E.W. Skidmore, attorney and former state senator.
- First lady Ladybird Johnson visited Tuscaloosa and UA, urging Alabamians to join in the shaping of The Great Society. She mentioned the days in 1931 when she spent six weeks on the campus here as a student.
- A report from the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights said none of the institutions visited by commission members were living up to all provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Included were Druid City Hospital, Hale Memorial Hospital, Bryce Hospital, Partlow State School, the Tuscaloosa County Health Department and the Greene County Hospital.
- Former Tuscaloosa County Sheriff Beasor Walker was named “Officer of the Decade” by the Exchange Clubs of Tuscaloosa.
- Area families of soldiers serving in Operation Desert Storm were glued to news reports of action in the war; most of those interviewed were positive about the need for the war and the need to get rid of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The Tuscaloosa Veterans Administration Medical Center staff members were preparing for injured soldiers who would begin to filter in for treatment.
- More than 23,000 marijuana plants were destroyed in West Alabama counties the previous year according to the Alabama Department of Public Safety with Bibb, traditionally among the top marijuana-producing counties in the state, leading West Alabama with 10,576 plants destroyed. Tuscaloosa was second with 6,567 plants and Fayette was third with 3,014 plants.
- A marker recognizing the Kring Post Oak at Gainesville in Sumter County was erected as part of Alabama's Famous and Historic Trees Program. The tree, estimated to be 175 years old, was in downtown Gainesville on Alabama Highway 39 behind the old coffin shop. The inscription on the marker read: This tree shades the Kring Coffin Shop. Edward Kring was a master carpenter from the mid to late 1880s.
- Tuscaloosa County Commissioner Don Wallace announced he is running for probate judge. Wallace had represented District 1 on the county commission for 15 months.
- UA junior wide receiver Tyrone Prothro underwent successful surgery to have a rod inserted to stabilize his broken left leg.
- The blaze that destroyed a warehouse in Tuscaloosa that distributed Christian themed apparel, was ruled accidental. A high-powered heater was left too close to boxes of clothes and combustible materials.
- Mimosa Golf Club closed after 40 years. It was opened by physician Joe Shamblin in the mid-1960s and he operated it until his death in 2000. A developer planned to rework the 18-hole golf course and build an apartment complex on the 278-acre site.
- Tuscaloosa County Circuit Judge John England announced his candidacy for the Alabama Supreme Court seat that was open because of the retirement of Justice Bernard Harwood of Tuscaloosa.
- A Lamar County circuit clerk faced up to 25 years in federal prison for providing confidential information to a drug dealer and offering to tamper with a grand jury.
- Capt. Sharon Crowder would serve as interim chief for the Northport Police Department until a replacement was found for Chief Billy Galloway, who retired.
- The Tuscaloosa County Board of Education named LeGrand Hutchison a new member after accepting the resignation of a former member.
- John Hinton announced his candidacy for the District 3 seat on the Tuscaloosa County Board of Education.
- Head baseball coach Jim Wells was one win away from tying the all-time record for wins (487) at UA.
- The Northport City Council took the first steps toward starting road projects on Union Chapel Road and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. MLK Jr. would be widened and possibly re-routed; Union Chapel would be re-routed to straighten out the road's intersection with Alabama Highway 69.
- Nearly 78 percent of voters in Tuscaloosa approved Sunday alcohol sales. It was up to the City Council to decide which businesses will be allowed to sell alcohol seven days a week.
- The Tuscaloosa City Council approved the first installment from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development that would fund the streetscape improvement project that was being called Phase II of the city's Downtown Urban Renewal Project.
- Three local attorneys were in the running to be Tuscaloosa County's family court judge: Jim Gentry, Elizabeth Hamner and Kelly Kearney. Gov. Robert Bentley has 60 days to appoint one of the three to the vacancy left by the retirement of Judge Herschel Hamner.
- UA quarterback Greg McElroy says he won't throw at the upcoming NFL Combine or at Alabama's Pro Day on March 9. McElroy injured his throwing hand during the Senior Bowl in Mobile on Jan. 29.
- Rodney Landrum, auditor with the state Department of Examiners of Public Accounts, was the first witness called by state prosecutors in the criminal trials of the former president and the chief business officer at Shelton State Community College. The two were charged with first-degree theft and first-degree theft by deception.
- The city of Tuscaloosa grew by 16 percent in the previous decade, according to the 2010 Census, but did not reach 100,000 people as city leaders had hoped. The Census Bureau counted 90,468 people in the city.
- Wayne Ford retired as extension service coordinator after 32 years.
- Barry Mason, the longtime dean of the UA Culverhouse College of Commerce and Business Administration, decided to step down but remain on the faculty.
- Painter Asher B. Durand's “Progress (The Advance of Civilization),” was sold for a reported $40 million by the Westervelt Warner Museum of American Art in Tuscaloosa to an unknown buyer.
- Despite attempts to keep it open, the Alberta post office closed.
- Work was progressing on Legacy Park that was expected to open in the fall.
- The new $3.8 million fire station No. 2 on Alabama Highway 69 near Union Chapel Road opened. It is the largest station in Northport with about 18,000 square feet.
- Carla Hegenbarth took over Nick's Original Filet House. Her husband, Lloyd Cotis Hegenbarth, died in September. “Nothing is going to change,” she said. “It is what it is and what it always has been.”
- A new police precinct opened downtown with Capt. Heath Clark as commander.
- Retired Crestmont Elementary School Principal Katrina May, hailed as an icon of the county school system, died at 58.

Compiled by retired News librarian Betty Slowe.
32728
February 21st, 2016
University of West Alabama food bank to help students on campus - The University of West Alabama is launching a new student food bank meant to address food insecurity on campus.
UWA plans a kickoff reception for the food bank at 2 p.m. on Tuesday on the bottom floor of the Student Union Building. Those who attend the event are encouraged to bring items to help stock the food bank.
The UWA Student Food Bank will provide students in need with nonperishable food items and several different non-food items such as toiletries and hygiene products.
“Stressors like empty cupboards and scraping by affect student success in learning, grades, and graduation, so addressing food insecurity on the UWA campus serves both altruistic and educational needs,” said lead organizer James Robinson.
Robinson, an assistant professor of exercise science, began to research the concept of food insecurity across campus after noting the needs among his student, according to a release from the university.
Robinson argued, based on his research, students often experience food insecurity or are at risk.
“What has long been termed the ‘non-traditional’ student is fast becoming the average college student,” Robinson said. “These students are often food insecure or one missed paycheck away from being food insecure.”
The bank will be housed on the bottom floor of the student union. Donations of both nonperishable good and toiletries will be accepted at the bank. Monetary donations will be accepted as well. Donors who write a check to the UWA Foundation for direct support of the food bank can claim the tax-deductible donation, but receipts will not be given for cash donations.
The top needs for the food bank include peanut butter, canned or packaged meats, canned pasta and meat meals, canned soups, canned vegetables and fruits, dry cereals, instant oatmeal in individual packets, instant mashed potatoes in individual packets, laundry detergent, toiletries and nonprescription pain relievers.
Other requested items include can openers, plastic utensils, plastic or paper plates, squeeze bottles of jelly, granola and cereal bars, raisins or other dried fruits, instant ramen noodles, microwave popcorn, juice packs, and dehydrated drink mixes.
“The food bank will be open access,” Robinson said. “Students may utilize the bank during normal Fitness Center hours. Donated items may also be dropped off during that time. No sign in or interview is needed, as we would like for the program to remain secure and anonymous, and most of all, free.”
To volunteer or donate to the UWA Student Food Bank or to learn more about the program, email James Robinson at JHRobinson@uwa.edu or call 205-652-3441.
32727
February 21st, 2016
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