1 month ago

Bus carrying Texas students plunges into Alabama ravine

A charter bus carrying high school band members home to Texas from Disney World plunged into an Alabama ravine early Tuesday, and numerous children were being carried by helicopters to emergency rooms.

Al.com reported that injuries range from minor to critical, and that at least one critically injured passenger was taken to the University of South Alabama Hospital, the only level one trauma center in the region.

Mike Burke, a spokesman at Sacred Heart Hospital in Pensacola, Florida, said about 20 patients had been brought to the hospital by ambulance and helicopter, “and more are on the way.”

“We have multiple injuries; the bus went down into a ravine,” said Chris Elliott, a Baldwin County commissioner who helped out at the county emergency management center following the crash. “The fire department and officers are having to rappel down into the area to get into it.”

Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office Major Anthony Lowery said the bus ran off the highway before dawn. An image of the wreckage shows the crumpled bus landed on its side, reportedly more than 50 feet below the shoulder of the highway.

Helicopters and ambulances took the injured to three hospitals in Mobile and Pensacola, Florida, plus a free-standing emergency room in rural Baldwin County, Elliott said.

“Everybody is being transferred to a hospital to at least be checked out,” said Elliott.

Sheriff Huey Moss Mack says Interstate 10 has been closed in both directions. Traffic has been diverted and Alabama State troopers are asking people to avoid the area.

Channelview Independent School District spokesman Mark Kramer confirmed in a statement that the accident involved a charter bus carrying Channelview High School band members. Kramer said immediate details were limited and school authorities are in contact with law enforcement in Alabama to get more information.

One image posted on the band’s Facebook page hours before the crash showed a large group posing outside Disney World.

(Image: Channelview High School Falcon Band at Disney World. Channelview Falcon Band/Facebook)

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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New organization to promote Mobile-Tensaw River Delta

A new group known as the Alabama Delta Alliance has come together to promote the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta (MTRD) and its many natural resources. The Delta Alliance Alliance will support the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta, which is America’s second largest delta and the most bio-diverse body of water in the world.

This alliance is comprised of a diverse group of individuals, organizations and businesses that want to promote and enhance this ecological wonderland.

“The Alabama Delta Alliance is a group that shares a deep appreciation for the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta and the many benefits it offers the people of this state,” said Britton Bonner, chairman of the board of the Coastal Alabama Partnership. “Our goal is to build a robust, diverse coalition and effort focused solely on promoting the MTRD region — now and in the future.”

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Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson called the initiative “an idea whose time has come,” adding, “The delta is a hugely untapped resource for eco-tourism.”

For generations and well over a century, Alabamians and others have enjoyed the way of life and serenity of the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta. The MTRD is home to more than 600 species of fish, mammals, reptiles, amphibians and birds. With habitats that include huge swaths of swamps, marshes and wetlands, it is a veritable maze of tributary creeks, rivers, streams and bayous.

“Our newly created effort will serve as a resource to further educate the public on the biological and ecological diversity of the MTRD, the expansive flora and fauna, as well as the many recreational opportunities available to all regardless of interest or income level,” said state Rep. Randy Davis, whose legislative district abuts the delta. “A major goal of our effort will be to catalog the many access points, boat ramps, trails, local businesses and other important destinations the public will want to have at their fingertips when planning a trip in the MTRD.”

The Alabama Delta Alliance is encouraging people to learn more about the delta in hopes they will be inspired to visit the region. With the goal of promoting ecotourism in the area, the Alliance has created a new website as a tool for both visitors and residents alike, at www.alabamadelta.com. The website offers visitors a history of the delta, places to visit and information about alliance and steering committee members who are committed to the effort.

“Our website will be representative of the diverse people and organizations that are working with us,” said steering committee member Russell Ladd. “The interactive map will serve as a great resource that we can promote through social media and other digital channels, encouraging more visitation and driving ecotourism in the region.”

This steering committee is comprised of long-time delta supporters. Additionally, the organization has the support of more than 40 members from across the state.

Steering committee members believe that state and local management practices are adequately protecting and expanding access to the MTRD region. Federal designations and oversight often come with limitations on access and management of those properties, and it’s important to maintain the quality of life and outdoor recreational heritage by continuing to allow the state to manage this important natural resource.

“Our goal is to protect the many natural resources and the vast biological diversity that the Mobile-Tensaw River Delta enjoys,” Ladd added. “By getting involved in our effort, people are ensuring that we can continue to provide these important lands all throughout the region for future generations to enjoy.”

56 mins ago

Birmingham’s Bill Oliver makes debut as feature film director at Tribeca Film Festival

Years ago, Bill Oliver was a sixth-grader at Highlands Day School in Birmingham when his math teacher started a photography club.

“I signed up for that, and that’s where I fell in love with photography,” says Oliver, who went on to be editor and photographer of the yearbook and to start a movie club while a student at Indian Springs School.

Little did he know where that would lead him.

This week, Oliver is debuting his first feature film as a director. “Jonathan” makes its bow at the prestigious Tribeca Film Festival in New York on Saturday.

Oliver, who wrote “Jonathan” with his longtime writing partner Peter Nickowitz, describes it as “a science-fiction drama about two brothers who share a secret and what happens when one of them falls in love and begins to neglect their relationship.”

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The movie stars Ansel Elgort (“The Fault in Our Stars,” “Baby Driver”), Oscar nominee and Emmy winner Patricia Clarkson (“The Untouchables,” “The Dead Pool,” “Six Feet Under”), Golden Globe winner Matt Bomer (“American Horror Story,” “The Normal Heart”)  and Suki Waterhouse (“Love, Rosie,” “Insurgent”).

Elgort was cast first.

“I knew him from ‘The Fault in Our Stars,’ but I didn’t know any of his other work,” Oliver says. “I saw one side of his character in ‘Fault in Our Stars,’ charming and outgoing, but he was also in ‘Men, Women & Children,’ where he played a very introverted character. We met for lunch and he was just very charming, very smart, very enthusiastic about the project and won me over.”

Casting Elgort helped land Clarkson, a veteran of stage and screen.

“She responded to the script and also had met Ansel at the Toronto Film Festival and fell in love with him, too,” Oliver says. “She was excited to work with him.”

Waterhouse, a British model-turned-actress, worked with Elgort in the upcoming “Billionaire Boys Club.”

Cast and crew gathered for 22 days in fall 2016 to shoot the movie.

It wasn’t Oliver’s first time behind the camera – he’s shot several short films since graduating from Princeton University and going on to directing school at the American Film Institute – but “Jonathan” is his first feature-length project.

“It was definitely scary, but I felt prepared and made sure I was prepared,” he says. “You do all your homework. You have to understand everyone’s job and be prepared to talk to all of them about it. I did my research, did my homework, did my analysis of the script.”

The Tribeca Film Festival is a big step, and “Jonathan” is already getting noticed. More than 100 feature films are being screened, and the show business publication Variety picked “Jonathan” as one of the nine with the most buzz.

“Jonathan” will screen four times between Saturday and April 28. Oliver is hoping to find a distributor to put “Jonathan” out in theaters, and other film festivals might be in its future.

But for now, the director just wants people to see his movie.

“I’m very happy with it and very proud of it,” says Oliver, who lives in New York. “I’m excited to show it to an audience.”

(Courtesy of Alabama NewsCenter)

3 hours ago

Students walked out of school on Columbine shooting’s 19th anniversary

Students walked out of school to commemorate the 19th anniversary of the shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., Friday.

Students across the country staged a walkout to protest gun violence 19 years after the Columbine shooting in 1999, The Washington Post reported. Connecticut’s Ridgefield High School student Lane Murdock, 16, organized the walkouts in order to pay respects to the Columbine High School massacre, where seniors Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris opened fired and killed 13 students and one teacher before killing themselves. Students from 2,500 different schools around the United States are expected to walk out of their high schools at 10 a.m. in their time zone to commemorate the tragedy, according to the HuffPost.

However, Columbine officials are less enthusiastic about the walkouts. Current principal Scott Christy and Frank DeAngelis, the principal during the 1999 shooting, wrote a letter, asking students to instead do a day of community service.

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“April has long been a time to respectfully remember our loss and also support efforts to make our communities a better place,” the letter read. “Please consider planning service projects, an activity that will somehow build up your school … as opposed to a walkout.” Columbine high school does not hold classes on the anniversary in a practice started in 2000 in order to pay respects to the victims. Many students instead volunteer at soup kitchens, read to preschoolers, and help clean up parks.

“We feel like doing anything on that day is disrespectful for the families of people who died,” Columbine high school sophomore Rachel Hill said. “There’s a time for protest, but it’s not that day.” Hill didn’t think high school’s respected or listened to Columbine’s opinions, in regards to the walkout, the sophomore added.

The walkouts follow the March For Our Lives rally in Washington, D.C., March 24. The rally was held to advocate for gun reform following the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting spree in Parkland, Fla., Feb. 14.

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16 hours ago

Conservatives should stop using the phrase ‘fake news’

Liberals have overused the word “racist” so much that the adjective now lacks any commonly agreed upon definition, and that’s a shame because we need words — especially that word — to mean something.

Conservatives have now done the same thing with the phrase “fake news.”

And we need to stop.

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Are there racists? Of course, and where they are found, the label should indeed apply. The Alt-Right’s Richard Spencer is a racist. So is Jared Taylor.

But you’re not a racist if you believe our country should have borders. Or if you support law enforcement. Or if you believe in school choice.

Calling you a racist for supporting those things is the left’s attempt at shutting off debate and banishing those who advocate for such ideas.

Is there fake news? Of course, and just like the word “racist,” when it’s found, the label should apply. Dan Rather’s infamous story about George W. Bush’s record in the Air National Guard is a perfect example. It wasn’t true.

But news isn’t fake if it’s simply something you don’t like or would rather not hear. Or if it challenges your perspectives. Or if it, heaven forbid, says something unflattering about the president.

A racist is someone who actually hates people of another color and wishes them ill. Most people called ‘racist’ today are nothing of the sort.

Fake news means the story is a total fabrication. A lie. Complete fiction. Most stories called ‘fake news’ are also nothing of the sort.

In both cases, people making the charge simply want to delegitimize their opponent’s argument rather than make the mental and emotional effort to challenge their ideas.

The casualty of such total weakness is not just words, but thought itself.

As our fellow Alabamian Helen Keller wrote in her memoir, she wasn’t able to really think until words entered her mind that day at the water pump.

Words opened Helen Keller’s mind.

Don’t allow words to close yours.

17 hours ago

Grand jury considers Alabama woman’s stabbing of husband with sword

A grand jury in Alabama will hear the case of a woman accused of fatally stabbing her husband with a sword.

Authorities say 50-year-old Jeannette Hale stabbed her husband, Mark, in the chest while he played a guitar in their home on April 2.

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Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell tells AL.com that responding deputies found Mark Hale bleeding on their front porch. The sword was in the yard.

Mitchell says the husband later died at a hospital. An autopsy released Wednesday said the cause was complications of being stabbed.

The sheriff says Jeanette Hale was arrested on charges involving domestic violence and drugs.

(Associated Press, copyright 2018)