10 months ago

Alabama’s elected officials reflect on anniversary of 9/11, honor American heroes

Wednesday marked 18 years since the worst terrorist attacks on U.S. soil were perpetrated, and Alabama’s elected officials shared heartfelt words of remembrance for the 2,977 innocent lives lost that day on September 11, 2001.

At least nine Alabamians, or individuals with deep connections to the state, were killed on 9/11, including Terry Lynch – a former longtime staffer for Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL).

The Yellowhammer State’s leaders on Wednesday took to social media and released statements to mark this emotional day in American history.

Governor Kay Ivey also ordered the state’s flags to half-staff in honor of “Patriot Day” and in remembrance of the victims of the attacks.

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Ivey said, “Eighteen years ago, on this day, the strength of our nation was tested, but what emerged was the resiliency of American patriots.”

“Many of those heroes made the ultimate sacrifice, leaving behind family, friends and an entire nation to mourn their loss,” she continued. “However, it is because of their sacrifice that our country could stand tall in the wake of evil.”

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, Senator Doug Jones (D-AL) said, “Eighteen years ago, we were shaken to our core by a heinous – and cowardly – act of terrorism. We will never forget the 2,977 people who lost their lives on September 11th, 2001. We continue to pray for their loved ones, and all those who bear the physical and emotional scars of that day.”

“As dark as that day was for our country, it also revealed the true spirit of America,” he continued. “Everyday people became heroes – from the first responders and firefighters who ran towards burning buildings to the brave passengers of Flight 93 who sacrificed their own lives in a truly selfless effort to save the lives of others to the men and women who raised their hand to serve our nation’s military in a time of war.”

“The resolve and the unity of the American people in the aftermath of these senseless attacks was the bright light our world needed. I pray that today, we each honor their memory by embracing our shared ideals and our unwavering belief in American unity and strength,” Jones concluded.

In a statement, U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (AL-02) said, “Most all of us will never forget where we were on September 11, 2001, when the world changed before our very eyes.”

“I join our state and country in marking this day by remembering the Americans who lost their lives, praying for their families, and by honoring the heroes who emerged that day and in the months and years to come,” she added. “May this always be a solemn day to reflect upon how much has been sacrificed by so many. Let us also reaffirm our steadfast commitment to the American ideals of freedom, liberty, and justice that make this country the greatest in the world.”

“When thinking back on the attacks on September 11th in 2001, the same feelings of sadness and utter horror are overwhelming,” U.S. Rep Mike Rogers (AL-03), the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement.

“Folks across East Alabama and America will never forget our innocent American brothers and sisters we lost that tragic day and the families they left behind,” he stressed. “We also remember the Americans who died in the Benghazi attacks and pray for their families.”

“May God continue to bless the United States of America,” Rogers concluded.

U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt (AL-04) told Yellowhammer News, “None of us alive then will ever forget that day, nor should we. We will never forget the death, the destruction and the brutal images. But we should also never forget those among us who rose up that day and became heroes for the ages.”

In a statement to Yellowhammer News, U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) remarked, “Eighteen years ago, our country was forever changed, but our spirit and resolve were not broken.”

“Today, we remember and reaffirm our commitment to the survivors, heroic first responders and innocent victims lost on 9/11,” she added. “We will never forget!”

Lt. Governor Will Ainsworth said, “I encourage all Alabamians to look to the heavens today and ask God to bless the victims of 9/11 and the families and friends they left behind. Ask Him to watch over our first responders who run towards disaster when others run away. And thank Him for allowing all of us to live in the greatest country mankind has ever known.”


In a statement to Yellowhammer News, U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01) said, “On this day we remember and mourn the men and women who perished eighteen years ago at the hands of those seeking to take down all of us simply because we are Americans.”

“We should come together and rededicate ourselves to the phrase one nation under God, return to the principles that led to our rise to greatness, and never fail to honor the fallen and those who continue to serve and protect our nation,” he concluded.

This article may be updated throughout the day as more reactions come in.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

13 hours ago

Former Etowah Co. sheriff sues ALdotcom, law enforcement officers over damaging story

Former Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin is suing for defamation the individuals involved in a 2018 news story in which a woman accused him of illegal activities, including statutory rape.

The defendants listed in the suit include current Etowah County Sheriff Jonathan Horton, Oneonta Police Chief Charles Clifton, the parent company of Alabama Media Group’s AL.com and reporter Connor Sheets.

Horton was Rainbow City’s police chief at the time the story was published. He later beat Entrekin in a Republican primary to become the county sheriff.

The news story at the center of the lawsuit was published in 2018 under the headline “Police investigating allegations Alabama’s ‘Beach House Sheriff’ had sex with underage girls.”

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Entrekin was given the moniker ‘Beach House Sheriff’ because of a widely shared report from earlier in 2018 that detailed how he used an old Alabama law to keep for himself hundreds of thousands of dollars meant for feeding the county’s prisoners; the beach house had a similar price tag to the amount of money he kept.

Entrekin’s lawyers argue in the suit that the publication of the article alleging rape was “reckless and malicious” and in their mind more due to a collective animus from the defendants than proper journalistic and policing practices.

The claims at the center of the 2018 article are made by a woman named Mary Elizabeth Cross, who alleged that Entrekin committed statutory rape by having sexual relations with her at drug-fueled parties in 1992 when he was 29 and she was 15. Cross was age 41 in 2018 when she came forward with the allegations.

Entrekin told AL.com at the time, “I’ve never had sex with any 15-year-old girl or had drugs around or anything. I have never done drugs in my life. That’s the most absurd thing I’ve ever heard of. Never, ever has anything like that happened before.”

Cross brought the accusations to Horton in 2018, who was police chief of Rainbow City at the time. Horton was also then running against Entrekin in a campaign to be Etowah County Sheriff, so he referred the case to Oneonta Police Chief Charles Clifton.

Entrekin’s lawyers argue in the suit that Oneonta Chief Clifton has been “harboring a personal grudge against” against Entrekin “since the 1990s” that stemmed from “past professional interactions.”

The AL.com report says Clifton is the individual who contacted reporter Connor Sheets about the allegation, and two reporters and law enforcement officers interviewed her together during a long drive.

The lawyers for the former sheriff make similar claims that both Sheets and Horton participated in the article out of personal dislike for Entrekin.

Horton’s dislike, they argue, stems from what was in 2018 his ongoing campaign against Entrekin for the county sheriff position.

Sheets, they allege, harbors “a demonstrated dislike for Alabama sheriffs generally, and Mr. Entrekin in particular.”

In addition to Sheets, the suit names Advance Local Media, which publishes AL.com, along with the cities of Oneonta and Rainbow City, which employed Clifton and Horton respectively at the time of the article’s publishing.

The AL.com report cited a friend of Cross’, who the reporter allowed to remain anonymous, as corroborating the existence of the parties where young girls were with older men around the time of the alleged criminal behavior.

Entrekin’s complaint says that he did not purchase the lakeside property until 1995, three years after the incidents are reported to have happened. Additionally, a boat structure cited in the allegation against Entrekin was not built until 2009, his lawsuit contends as evidence in his favor.

The attorney for Entrekin filed the lawsuit in Etowah County Circuit Court. It can be accessed here.

The defendants in the suit did not return calls for comment left by the Gadsden Times, the paper closest to the relevant officials.

Entrekin’s lawyers said in a statement that their client “seeks to correct the record and repair some of the damage these defendants have done to his reputation and employment possibilities.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

14 hours ago

Officials say Alabamians cannot be required to wear a mask in order to vote

Secretary of State John Merrill on Friday released guidance from his office and Attorney General Steve Marshall saying face masks cannot be a requirement in order to vote in Alabama’s July 14 primary runoff election.

A release from Merrill’s office outlined that the secretary of state has received numerous inquiries from county and city officials questioning the legal authority to require or not require voters to wear masks. Various localities in the state have enacted general mask ordinances recently.

In public response to those inquiries, Merrill confirmed that state law does not place limits on an individual’s right to vote, citing Article III, Section 177(a) of the Constitution of Alabama, which reinforces the inherent right of eligible citizens to vote.

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Additionally, Merrill’s office advised that a notice from the attorney general’s office dated June 30 declared, “Though the Attorney General strongly recommends that voters and poll workers follow CDC guidelines when in public places and behave in a manner that is respectful of poll workers and fellow voters, it is clear that state law does not allow for an individual’s qualification to vote to be contingent upon the wearing of a mask or face covering, respecting social distancing, using gloves, or having a temperature in a normal range.”

Merrill stressed the bottomline.

“While it can be ‘strongly recommended’ that an individual wear a mask, it cannot be required,” he stated. “In our state, we will continue to see that the right for every eligible Alabamian to vote is protected.”

You can view CDC guidance for voters and election polling places here.

Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn

14 hours ago

How to save the 2020 college football season

The sports media and the political media world are gathering to undo college football.

Why? I can’t even begin to understand it.

But with the Ivy League ending their fall sports and the Big 10 ending non-conference games, with other conferences to follow, it is becoming increasingly clear that the game we all love will be killed by the end of the month, if not sooner.

The ending of non-conference games makes absolutely no sense.

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Look at the University of Florida and their schedule: They have a game with the University of Kentucky at home and an away game at Florida State. Which game do you think will get played (if there is a season)?

Kentucky, because it is in the same conference.

But Lexington and Gainesville are 708 miles away, while Gainesville and Tallahassee are around 150 miles away from each other.

So logistically, having Kentucky come to Florida is a bigger “hassle” but that game might get played.

If you can rationalize this using science, medicine, politics, logic, common sense or wild guesses, let me know.

This ridiculous decision all but dooms a season because it is indefensible and silly.

So, how do we fix this?

Throw out the conferences for a season and replace them with 50 state divisions and reset the schedule completely.

If the distance is an issue, and that’s the best reason I can come up with to end non-conference games, this eliminates that.

This will force every state to play all games in their home state, with no exceptions. These are trying times after all.

Here is a potential Alabama schedule:

9/5 – Alabama A&M  at Alabama
9/12 – Faulkner at Alabama
9/19 – Alabama at Samford
9/26 – Alabama at Troy
10/3 – UAB Blazers at Alabama
10/10 – Birmingham-Southern Panthers at Alabama
10/17  – Alabama at West Alabama
10/24 – Alabama at Alabama State
11/7 – Jacksonville State at Alabama
11/14 – North Alabama at Alabama
11/21 – Alabama at South Alabama
11/28 – Auburn at Alabama

This will be good for these schools to play the powerhouse. Maybe fans eventually get to see these games in person; the schools could even get some of that sweet TV revenue.

The rankings can be done, the same with the coaches’ and media polls.

When this schedule is done, have your conference championships and College Football Playoff as normal.

Is this the perfect system? No.

This is going to require innovation and new ideas. If you want an actual college football season, this is the best bet.

Any conference that thinks it is going to continue on, as usual, is crazy. The sports media is set for self-destruction with their thirst to insert politics into America’s avenues for escape. Killing the college football season is their goal.

They will chip away at them until they relent.

Economies will be further destroyed, jobs will be lost (in their industry as well), and lives will be changed forever.

When college football is officially canceled, we will all know things have changed for good.

It will happen.

15 hours ago

Five Guys workers who refused to serve cops have been fired, suspended

The Five Guys employees who reportedly refused to serve members of the Daphne Police Department have been fired and suspended, according to a statement from the company.

Yellowhammer News detailed earlier this week a report first made by WKRG that three Daphne police officers were refused service at a Five Guys location.

The national headquarters of the restaurant released a statement saying, “The actions the Daphne, AL franchise have taken include termination and suspension of the employees involved. The store has temporarily closed for further education and customer service training with a representative from the Daphne Police Department and will reopen at 4PM today, July 10th.”

“The actions and sentiments of a few employees in Daphne, AL do not represent Five Guys or the local franchisee,” added the company on Twitter.

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The incident caused uproar on social media from citizens angry that members of a police department were being refused service based on the uniform they wore.

“The Daphne Police Department appreciates the outpouring of support from our community and from supporters of Law Enforcement across the country. We also want to thank Five Guys on a corporate and local level. We have been working through this situation and there has been total cooperation. The Daphne Police Department does not think that the actions of a few employees represents Five Guys as a whole,” the Daphne police told FOX10 on Thursday, while the investigation was still underway.

The department also dispelled rumors that the officers were not wearing masks, saying, “All three officers were wearing masks the entire time they were inside of the establishment. The events that occurred while the officers were in the restaurant were unfortunate.”

Five Guys added on Friday that the chain was committed to “fair, respectful, and equal treatment for all customers.”

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95

15 hours ago

U.S. Attorney Jay Town resigns to join private sector

U.S. Attorney Jay Town announced Friday that he is resigning his post with the Department of Justice and will take a job with a defense contractor in Huntsville later this year.

Town, 46, has been serving as U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama since he was nominated by President Donald Trump and confirmed by Congress in 2017.

“It was an honor to be a part of this Administration with an unrivaled class of United States Attorneys from around the nation. I will forever remain thankful to those who supported my nomination and my tenure as the U.S. Attorney,” Town said in a statement.

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Before his appointment, Town served in the U.S. Marine Corps and as a judge advocate. He has also worked in the Madison County District Attorney’s Office.

“I offer my gratitude to Jay Town for his three years of service as United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Jay’s leadership in his District has been immense,” said U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr.

“His contributions to the Department of Justice have been extensive,” continued Barr, before adding, “I appreciate his service to our nation and to the Justice Department, and I wish him the very best.”

Town said of his new role, “I have accepted an incredible opportunity to work for a privately held defense contractor and cybersecurity solutions company located in Huntsville operating in both the government and commercial sectors. My role, which will begin later this year, will be significant but also has the virtue of allowing me to remain much closer to home. There will be an announcement by the company in a few weeks further explaining my position.”

As head federal prosecutor in the Northern District, Town oversaw the federal prosecutions for crimes committed in Huntsville, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Anniston, Oxford and many other cities.

“My service as the U.S. Attorney has been the highest honor of my legal career. I am saddened to depart, but it is undeniable that I leave behind an incredibly competent and talented team that will always fight for justice here in the great state of Alabama,” Town commented on Wednesday.

“The Attorney General of the United States will announce my replacement in the coming days or weeks,” he concluded.

Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: henry@yellowhammernews.com or on Twitter @HenryThornton95