The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

4 days ago

SEC media days kicks off in Hoover

(SEC/Facebook, YHN)

Southeastern Conference media days begins at the event’s longtime home.

SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey kicks the four-day event off Monday with his annual media address about the state of the league and college football.

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Media days returns to the Birmingham suburb of Hoover, Alabama after one year in Atlanta.

The spotlight will be on LSU coach Ed Orgeron on Day 1, with Florida’s Dan Mullen and Missouri’s Barry Odom also taking the podium.

Some things have not changed: Alabama and Georgia remain the division favorites.

The Crimson Tide’s Nick Saban speaks Wednesday, a day after Bulldogs coach Kirby Smart has his turn.

All 14 teams will make the rounds, including star quarterbacks like Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa and Georgia’s Jake Fromm.

Every SEC head coach returns this season for the first time since 2006.
(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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1 week ago

Alabama cotton farmers may be affected by new virus

(Pixabay)

Alabama cotton farmers will face threats to their crops this year in the form of a new virus with no known cure.

WSFA-TV reports cotton leafroll dwarf virus is a new strain of cotton blue disease.

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The Alabama Cooperative Extension System says the virus is transmitted by aphids and diminishes blooms and bolls in the upper canopy, resulting in lower yields, mainly in late-planted cotton.

The new strain was discovered in Alabama in 2017 but has been observed in Brazil in 2006. It has since been confirmed in Florida, Georgia and Mississippi.

The virus reduced cotton yields by nearly 50,000 bales in 2018.

Alabama Farmers Federation’s Carla Hornady symptoms include red leaf veins, cupped leaves and sterility.

Hornady says it will likely take years to develop new resistant cotton cultivars.

(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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2 weeks ago

Federal loans to help Alabama businesses hit by Hurricane Michael

(NOAA NWS/Facebook, PIxabay)

The federal government is offering assistance to businesses in southeast Alabama that were affected by Hurricane Michael last October.

A statement by the Small Business Administration says disaster loans are available to small businesses, agricultural cooperatives, aquaculture businesses and nonprofits that were hit by the Category 5 storm.

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Low-interest loans of as much as $2 million are available in seven counties in all.

Those include Barbour, Coffee, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Pike counties.

The loans can be used for needs including paying fixed debts, payroll and bills.

The storm made landfall on the Florida Panhandle on Oct. 10, but its winds and rain created problems as far north as Alabama and Georgia.
 (Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 weeks ago

Defense attorney says deaths of Auburn broadcaster, wife not a crime

(Auburn PD/Contributed)

An attorney for a teenager charged in the traffic deaths of Auburn University’s sports announcer and his wife denied that any crime occurred, calling the crash a “terrible tragedy” instead.

Tommy Spina, a lawyer for 16-year-old Johnston Edward Taylor, told AL.com his client simply fell asleep at the wheel and was not impaired before the wreck which killed broadcaster Rod Bramblett and his wife Paula.

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Spina said there was no way to express the “remorse and contrition” felt by Taylor and his family, Spina said.

“We trust that in time there can be healing for parties directly affected by this terrible tragedy,” said Spina.

Taylor is charged with manslaughter in the wreck, which happened May 25 in Auburn.

Authorities allege Taylor was driving about 90 mph and had traces of the psychoactive part of marijuana in his system when he rear-ended an SUV carrying the couple.

Rod Bramblett, 52, was driving and died of a head injury. Paula Bramblett, 53, died of multiple internal injuries.

There was no indication the teen tried to stop before the wreck, authorities said.

Spina said Johnston had spent the day at Lake Martin with his girlfriend’s family and “had been without sleep for a period of time.”

“He did not drink at the lake and he did not partake of marijuana while at the lake. This is undisputed,” Spina said.

Experts say that marijuana can stay in someone’s system for as long as 30 days or more, Spina said, and the teen has consistently told authorities he fell asleep while driving.

Authorities previously said there was not any indication that alcohol or cellphone use played a role in the wreck, in which Johnston was not seriously injured.
 (Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 weeks ago

Alabama aims to combat teacher-student sexual relationships

(Pixabay, YHN)

Alabama education officials are trying to combat what they say is a growing problem of sexual relationships between teachers and students.

The state Department of Education has released a training program that officials in Montgomery are urging local school systems to use in teaching educators about avoiding inappropriate encounters.

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The program also encourages teachers to report colleagues they suspect of having inappropriate relations with students.

The training material quotes reports that say Alabama is among the worst states in the nation for sexual relationships between school workers and students, and it depicts the problem as getting worse.

“There are just more educators doing bad things with students and I think a big part of that, to me at least, is the advent of social media,” said Barry Matson, executive director of the Alabama District Attorneys Association, in a video included with the program.

After Alabama criminalized teacher-student sex, 45 such cases were reported in 2017, the curriculum states, and Alabama leads the nation in inappropriate student-teacher relationships on a per capita basis.

More than 200 educators have been arrested on sex charges involving students since 2010, and social media and texting are fueling the problem, it says.

“This is a topic people don’t want to talk about, but there is no choice,” Alabama School Superintendent Eric Mackey said in a program video.

The curriculum was developed with the state prosecutors’ association, colleges and universities.

It is not mandatory, but Mackey is asking city and county systems to use the material.

The Alabama Education Association has agreed to help with the training, Mackey told local officials in a letter last month after the training curriculum was posted online.

It includes videos depicting the problem of inappropriate relationships.

The executive director of the Alabama Association of School Boards, Sally Smith, told AL.com the organization will encourage board members across the state to offer the training to school employees.

“The videos provide a great vehicle to have conversations about these very difficult issues,” she said.

Alabama used material from a similar program in Texas in developing the training.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 weeks ago

No prosecution for Alabama woman who started fight, lost unborn baby

(Birmingham PD)

An Alabama district attorney said Wednesday she is dropping the manslaughter charge against a woman who lost her fetus when she was shot during a fight.

Marshae Jones was arrested last week after a grand jury concluded she intentionally caused the death of her fetus by initiating a fight, knowing she was pregnant.

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Jones was five months pregnant when 23-year-old Ebony Jemison shot her in the stomach during a December argument over the fetus’ father, authorities said.

Jemison was initially charged with manslaughter, but a Jefferson County grand jury declined to indict her after police said an investigation determined Jones started the fight, and Jemison ultimately fired in self-defense.

Jones, 28, was indicted by the same grand jury and arrested.

But Jefferson County Bessemer Cutoff District Attorney Lynneice O. Washington said Wednesday that she would not pursue the case.

“After reviewing the facts of this case and the applicable state law, I have determined that it is not in the best interest of justice to pursue prosecution of Ms. Jones,” Washington said, flanked by her chief assistant and local church leaders. “There are no winners, only losers, in this sad ordeal.”

The prosecutor did not take questions or explain the process that led to grand jurors returning the indictment to begin with.

Lawyers representing Jones said they were pleased with Washington’s decision and urged Jones’ supporters to direct their energy to “ensuring that what happened to Marshae won’t ever happen again.”

Jones’ lawyers filed a motion to dismiss Monday morning, arguing that in issuing the charges, the state used a “flawed and twisted rationale” that “ignores the law and ignores reason.”

The idea that Jones intentionally caused the death of her fetus by initiating the fight is a “tortured,” ”irrational” theory which “defies the most basic logic and analysis,” the filing asserts.

Alabama is one of dozens of states that have fetal homicide laws allowing criminal charges when fetuses are killed in violent acts, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Jones’ arrest sparked outrage across the country, with advocates for women’s rights calling it another attempt to charge women for crimes related to their pregnancies.

Legal scholars said the arrest raised questions about what other scenarios — such as driving a car or swimming in a pool — could constitute putting a fetus in danger.

In an emailed statement, American Civil Liberties Union deputy legal director Jeffery Robinson said Washington’s decision “represents precisely what we want to see in these critical moments: a prosecutor who is not afraid to use prosecutorial discretion and power to refuse to prosecute when the law and justice demands that charges should be dropped.”

Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women, said she is pleased to see the case dismissed but noted it would be a mistake to see it as an outlier.

“We hope there are no more cases like this in the future, but our experience in 40 years of cases suggests that we will see many more such misuses of the law in the name of fetal personhood in the future,” Paltrow said.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 weeks ago

Police say boy died in hot car in Dothan as drugged parents slept

(Dothan PD/Contributed)

Alabama police said the parents of a two-year-old boy were under the influence of marijuana when the toddler left the house, got trapped inside a hot vehicle and died.

News outlets report Melinda and Robert King were arrested Tuesday on charges of manslaughter and first-degree marijuana possession.

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Dothan Police Capt Will Benny says Castiel King slipped out of the home Friday while both parents were asleep under the influence of marijuana.

The toddler managed to get himself into the car but could not get out.

The temperature in Dothan Friday was about 94 degrees, making it about 116 degrees in the vehicle.

Benny said there were other children in the house as well.

It is unclear whether the Kings have lawyers.
 (Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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2 weeks ago

Lawyers: Former Auburn star, coach Chuck Person was broke in NCAA scandal

(Auburn Tigers)

Lawyers for former Auburn University assistant basketball coach Chuck Person said Tuesday the 13-year NBA veteran was broke and financially desperate when he joined a bribery conspiracy that cheated young athletes by steering them toward bribe-paying advisers and managers.

They asked a judge in papers filed in Manhattan federal court to spare him from prison in the scandal that touched some of the biggest schools in college basketball.

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“Chuck recognizes that his failure to manage his money responsibly led him to make the worst decision of his entire life,” the lawyers said. “He grew up poor and suddenly came into millions of dollars without a clue how to manage it. Chuck spent too freely, gave to anyone who asked, made dreadful investment decisions, and turned to high interest loans as his financial circumstances deteriorated.”

Prosecutors say Person, scheduled to be sentenced next Tuesday, accepted $91,500 in bribes to steer top players to a government cooperator posing as a financial adviser.

Sentencing guidelines call for two years in prison though three other coaches who pleaded guilty to the same charge have received leniency.

Person’s March guilty plea to a bribery conspiracy charge came nearly two decades after he was a regular presence on NBA courts, known as “The Rifleman” for lighting up scoreboards with his long-range shooting skills.

After he was drafted by the Indiana Pacers in 1986, he went on to play for five NBA teams over 13 seasons.

In 2010, he earned a championship ring as an assistant coach with the Los Angeles Lakers.

Lawyers wrote that Person’s financial troubles intensified almost as soon as his NBA career ended when he was paying $30,000 monthly to his ex-wife while he was earning $18,000 annually in his first non-playing role with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

“Chuck’s singular focus on basketball, his failure to plan for his financial future, and his unbounded generosity ultimately had catastrophic consequences,” they wrote.

The lawyers said he knew he was violating NCAA rules and was betraying his players and their families and Auburn University.

By 2016, when he was an assistant coach at Auburn, where he set a record as the school’s all-time leading scorer in the 1980s, he was deeply in debt with bank loans, including one to finance a community center in his hometown, and several private loans, the lawyers said.

One financial institution had obtained a default judgment, which garnished 25 percent of his wages at Auburn, they added.

“Creditors were growing impatient and Chuck was becoming desperate. Chuck could have turned to his many friends for help, but he was embarrassed and ashamed,” they said.

Instead, the man who overcame racism and extreme poverty growing up in rural Alabama, got swept up in the college basketball scandal when his search for a new loan earned him an introduction to the government cooperator, the lawyers said.

His lawyers’ submission included letters from Charles Sonny Smith, who coached at Auburn for 11 seasons through the 1980s, and Sam Perkins, another former NBA player who met Person when both competed to be on the U.S. Olympic team in 1984.

Smith called Person “my favorite player ever.”

Perkins said Person was “still a good friend.”
 (Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 weeks ago

Judge rules former sheriff can’t pocket jail food money

(C. Abel/Facebook, C. Sims/Contributed)

A north Alabama judge says a current sheriff should get disputed jail food funds, not his predecessor.

WHNT-TV reports Marshall County Circuit Judge Chris Abel ruled that current Marshall County Sheriff Phil Sims should get the nearly $24,000.

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Former sheriff Scott Walls argued he should be allowed to pocket the money, a practice allowed until recently.

The judge ruled for the new sheriff, saying Sims should get the money in his capacity as sheriff, and not as an individual.

The ruling does not affect Walls’ separate lawsuit against the state comptroller challenging Gov. Kay Ivey’s edict that sheriffs could no longer pocket food money.

The two sheriffs have also clashed over purchases Walls made after losing the election, including 20,000 rolls of toilet paper and 55-gallon (208-liter) drums of dishwashing soap.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 weeks ago

Mobile to study fares, ridership if Amtrak returns to city

(Pixabay)

The Mobile City Council is delaying a proposal that endorsed the return of passenger rail service to the Gulf Coast through Mobile.

City officials recently delayed a resolution that would have asked Gov. Kay Ivey to commit state funds necessary to return Amtrak service to the region, AL.com reported.

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Ivey had said earlier this month that she needs more information before the state commits funding to help restore Amtrak service.

In Mobile, council members say they want more time to consider information about fares, ridership and logistical issues.

Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson expressed concern about passenger trains potentially blocking access to the city’s cruise-ship terminal.

Councilman Joel Daves also questioned Amtrak ridership interest in Mobile.

“I want to be absolutely clear, I am not opposed to the return of passenger rail service,” Daves said. “I think it’s too early to move ahead with respect to this resolution asking the governor to move forward. There are too many unanswered questions.”

Amtrak suspended service east of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina caused heavy damage in 2005.

The potential return of passenger trains has been in various stages of discussion on the Gulf Coast for more than five years, AL.com reported.

The overall costs to restore the service are estimated at $65.9 million.

Mississippi ($15 million) and Louisiana ($10 million) have already dedicated their portions for the project. Alabama, at around $2.7 million or less, remains uncommitted, the news site reported.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 weeks ago

Northeastern electrical company to shut down facility, transfer jobs to Alabama

(Hubbell Power Systems/Facebook)

A Connecticut-based electrical and electronic product manufacturer is closing two plants resulting in the loss of nearly 200 jobs.

The Hartford Courant reports that Hubbell Inc. will shut down plants in Newtown and Bethel by the end of the year as it shifts work to factories in other parts of the country.

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Work at the Newtown facility will move to Puerto Rico and work in Bethel is transferring to Alabama.

The company says in a statement that this decision is part of “an ongoing operational efficiency initiative.”

About 140 employees will lose their jobs in Newtown.

Hubbell said it will continue to retain more than 650 jobs in the state and maintain its Shelton headquarters.

The company posted revenue of $4.5 billion in 2018.
 (Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 weeks ago

Owner of ‘attack squirrel’ nabbed by north Alabama police

(M. Paulk/Facebook)

An Alabama man who denied feeding methamphetamine to a so-called “attack squirrel” he considered a pet has been arrested.

The Limestone County Sheriff’s Office said on Twitter that 35-year-old Mickey Paulk was caught Thursday night following a chase in which he rammed an investigator’s vehicle.

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Authorities had been seeking Paulk on multiple felony warrants unrelated to the squirrel named “Deeznutz,” made infamous after police said they were warned about a meth-fueled, trained attack squirrel.

Paulk told The Associated Press last week that he was working on a plan for turning himself in to authorities.

But authorities said he was booked into the Lauderdale County Jail after fleeing a motel on a stolen motorcycle.

It is unclear whether he has a lawyer.

Deeznutz could not be tested for meth and has been released.

 (Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 weeks ago

Appeal judges question minimum wage lawsuit out of Birmingham

(WVTM 13 News/YouTube, Pixabay)

Several federal appeals court judges appeared skeptical Tuesday of a lawsuit by fast-food workers and civil rights groups accusing Alabama lawmakers of racial discrimination for blocking a minimum-wage hike in the city of Birmingham.

The plaintiffs accused the legislature of targeting a mostly African-American city in a way that disproportionately harms black workers.

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Their argument was ruled plausible last year by a three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which reversed a judge’s decision to dismiss their lawsuit.

But judges on a 12-judge 11th Circuit panel that reheard the case Tuesday spent little time addressing claims of racism, focusing instead on a narrow procedural issue.

Some judges questioned whether the lawsuit was properly filed against Alabama’s attorney general. Failure to sue the correct party would get the case thrown out.

Judges asked how a court order against the attorney general without additional legal action in Alabama courts would force employers to pay Birmingham’s higher minimum wage.

Eric Brown, a plaintiffs’ attorney, said the attorney general is the right defendant because he had the authority to enforce the state law and had shown a willingness to do so, indicating to employers that they need not pay Birmingham’s higher minimum wage.

The lone African-American judge on the panel, Charles Wilson, pushed back against his colleagues’ concerns that an 11th Circuit ruling would not affect state courts or employers.

Wilson was among the judges on the unanimous, three-judge panel that sided with the workers and civil rights groups.

“We only have to do our job,” he said.

At issue was a 2016 Alabama statute requiring every city in the state to have a minimum wage tied to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

The workers and civil rights groups sued after the state law effectively nullified a city council vote to increase Birmingham’s wage to $10.10 an hour.

State officials countered that the law is race-neutral and similar to laws in nearly two dozen other states.

The three-judge panel said in its ruling last year the “plaintiffs have stated a plausible claim that the Minimum Wage Act had the purpose and effect of depriving Birmingham’s black citizens equal economic opportunities on the basis of race.”

State officials asked the appeals court to reconsider with a hearing before a larger panel of judges.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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3 weeks ago

Scientists warn Alabamians of yellow jacket super nests

(ACES/Contributed)

Scientists are cautioning Alabamians to be on the lookout for yellow jacket super nests.

Researchers say milder winters combined with an abundant food supply allow some colonies to survive later in the year and grow to the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.

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Charles Ray, an entomologist working with the Alabama Cooperative Extension System, says the state may see large numbers of the giant nests this year.

Two nests have already been confirmed, a month sooner than when the first nest was spotted in 2006.

During that year, the state had 90 of the nests, which can contain more than 15,000 of the stinging insects.

Experts say removal of the colonies is a task that should be reserved for licensed commercial pest control operators.
 (Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 weeks ago

University of North Alabama adopting new tuition plan

(UNA/Facebook, YHN)

The University of North Alabama is switching to a tuition plan that officials say will result in increased costs for some students but not others.

Officials at the school in Florence say they are reducing the total number of student fees from seven to one, and fees will be included in the overall tuition cost.

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A statement says students taking 15 hours will see a maximum increase in expenses of 4.1%.

But some could pay less, and costs will not change for others.

School officials say a lag in state funding is a continuing problem.

North Alabama’s vice president for business, Evan Thornton, says the school has deferred maintenance and capital needs totaling more than $160 million.

The school has an undergraduate enrollment of about 6,200 students.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 weeks ago

Walker County sheriff says two inmates planned to bomb courthouse

(FOX10 News - WALA/YouTube, YHN)

An Alabama sheriff’s department says it has foiled a plan by two inmates to detonate homemade bombs in a county courthouse.

AL.com reports that 29-year-old Bryant Wayne Williams Jr. and 56-year-old Terry Keith Hammond are charged with four counts of making a terroristic threat.

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Both men are from Jasper, and both remain in the Walker County jail.

The Walker County Sheriff’s Office said they had given themselves the code names “Pinky & The Brain” and were planning to create ammonium nitrate/fuel oil bombs.

Investigators said the plan was for one man to bond out of jail, then gather items and instructions to create the devices.

The primary targets were sheriff’s department commanders and investigators, Walker County judges and the district attorney.

The sheriff did not say whether the men have attorneys.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 weeks ago

Tuscaloosa considers changes to its laws involving CBD oil

(FOX10 News - WALA/YouTube)

Tuscaloosa city leaders are studying updates to the city code to regulate and permit the sale of items containing industrial hemp levels of THC.

If adopted, the regulations would prohibit hemp-based businesses from opening or operating within downtown Tuscaloosa and along the Black Warrior River.

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However, it would allow them to operate legally within areas that are zoned neighborhood business, highway-related commercial or within any of the city’s mixed use districts.

An existing business such as a coffee shop or health food store would be legally allowed to add products with hemp or CBD oil, The Tuscaloosa News reported.

But to open a new business focused primarily on the sale of hemp or CBD-based items, potential owners would first have to obtain a special exception from city officials.

“We want to keep something like a marijuana dispensary from opening up across the street from a daycare or a school or something like that,” Associate City Attorney Scott Holmes said.

A bill signed into law last year by President Donald Trump cleared the way for marijuana-based businesses to legally operate in Tuscaloosa, the newspaper reported.

The passage of the Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018, or the “Farm Bill,” as it’s commonly known, removed industrial hemp from the federal list of controlled substances.

Trump signed the bill into law in December, making it legal to sell any substance with .3% or less of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the active chemical in cannabis-based plants.

Other rules were being explored that would limit businesses from operating near churches, parks, schools or occupied dwellings, Holmes told a council committee recently.

Also, the new amendments and regulations were written broadly enough to quickly accommodate any additional state or federal changes, such as the legalization of recreational marijuana, he said.

“These zoning and regulation changes would, hopefully, allow the cannabis products to exist where they naturally belong,” Holmes said, “and keep them out areas of our community where we probably wouldn’t want them and allow for the flexibility that may be incumbent for this type of product.”
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 weeks ago

Ivey signs law allowing Birmingham church to hire police force

(WVTM 13 News/YouTube)

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed legislation permitting Briarwood Presbyterian Church to establish its own police force for its church and school campuses.

The law approved two weeks ago allows the Birmingham-based church to set-up a private law enforcement department to make arrests when crimes are committed on its properties.

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Church officials say the measure is necessary to provide adequate security for the 2,000 students and faculty on its two private school campuses.

Randall Marshall, the executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, says the law could allow the church to cover-up criminal activity that occurs on its campuses.

He expects the law to be challenged in the courts for unconstitutionally granting government power to a religious institution.

The new policy will go into effect in the fall.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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4 weeks ago

Daycares in subsidy program face deadline to get licensed

(Kid's Work Chicago Daycare/Flickr)

The deadline is approaching for Alabama daycares that receive subsidy payments to get licensed.

Alabama’s Department of Human Resources said Tuesday that 69 centers receiving the subsidies have yet to submit their application for licensure.

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That could put some parents in a bind if the center they use has not taken action.

A 2018 state law requires centers to get licensed by Aug. 1 to continue receiving the payments that help low and moderate-income families pay for childcare.

The Department of Human Resources spokesman Barry Spear said the department will help parents find a new center if needed.

A letter is being sent to parents in the program telling them that they will need to find a new center if their current one doesn’t become licensed by Aug. 1.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 month ago

Texas longhorn in Alabama sets Guinness World Record

(Guiness World Records/YouTube)

A Texas longhorn in Alabama has broken the Guinness World Record for longest horns, with a horn span wider than the Statue of Liberty’s face.

News outlets report Guinness World Records announced last week that Poncho Via’s horns measured just over 10-feet-seven-inches as of last month, beating all previous records.

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The seven-year-old steer belongs to a family in Goodwater, just southeast of Birmingham.

Poncho’s owner Jeral Pope says he brought Poncho into the family when the steer was six months old.

The organization says the Pope family first noticed the potential of Poncho’s horns when he was about four years old and his horns were growing straight out instead of curving upward.

Pope says Poncho is a gentle giant with a soft spot for apples, carrots and marshmallows.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 month ago

Ivey signs bill creating medical marijuana study commission

(Gov. Kay Ivey/Flickr, PIxabay, YHN)

A new medical marijuana study commission will make recommendations for Alabama legislators to consider next year.

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey’s office said Monday that the governor had signed the bill by Sen. Tim Melson (R-Florence).

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The commission is tasked with helping to draft legislation ahead of the 2020 session.

The measure was approved as a compromise after a bill to allow medical marijuana stalled in the Alabama legislature.

Melson’s original bill would have allowed patients with certain medical conditions to purchase medical marijuana with a doctor’s approval.

The Alabama Senate approved the measure, but the proposal hit opposition in the House of Representatives.

The signed bill also extends Carly’s Law that allows some patients to access CBD oil through a study at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 month ago

Ivey OKs chemical castration for some sex offenders

(Gov. Bentley/Flickr, Pixabay, YHN)

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey has signed into law legislation that would require certain sex offenders to be chemically castrated before their parole.

Gov. Kay Ivey’s press office said Monday that she had signed the bill, which is to take effect later this year.

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The measure applies to sex offenders convicted of certain crimes involving children younger than 13.

Chemical castration involves the injection of medication that blocks testosterone production.

Under the measure, certain offenders must receive the medication before they are paroled from prison.

A judge would decide when the medication could be stopped.

Several states have authorized chemical castration, but it’s unclear how often it’s used.

Some legal groups have raised concerns about the use of forced medication.

Rep. Steve Hurst (R-Munford) had proposed the measure for more than a decade.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 month ago

Auburn unveils $24 million expansion on campus

(Auburn Facilities Management/Facebook)

Auburn University’s astronomy and physics students are getting a new place to call home.

WSFA-TV reports university officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday for the 62,500-square-foot (5,806-square-meter) Leach Science Center addition.

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The expansion cost $24 million and includes a lot of features that students can look forward to starting this fall.

College of Sciences and Mathematics Dean Nicholas Giordano says the addition includes the astronomy terrace — a rooftop set up so that it can hold 18 telescopes that students can use for their astronomy classes.

It also features multiple group study areas and nine new labs.

Giordano says prior to the new addition, different parts of the physics department were housed in various places on campus.

Now, he says, they’ll all be under the same roof.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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1 month ago

Backers aim to connect communities on Tennessee River trail

(Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area/FAcebook, YHN)

Tourism officials in northwest Alabama say they hope the Tennessee RiverLine project happens soon.

The Tennessee RiverLine is a planned system of trails along the Tennessee River from Knoxville, Tennessee, to Paducah Kentucky, The TimesDaily reported.

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The proposed trail would provide access points for people kayaking or canoeing the river.

The main goals of the project include connecting communities to each other and creating economic investment in each area, said Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area Director Carrie Barske Crawford.

“It’s about making our community more friendly to river travelers while connecting to other cities,” Crawford said at a recent meeting of the Florence-Lauderdale Tourism Board.

In the Shoals region of northwest Alabama, students at the University of North Alabama are helping to come up with ways the region can tie into the trail.

“One of the main goals at the Muscle Shoals National Heritage Area is to seek out opportunities and projects that enhance the educational experience of students at UNA,” Crawford said in a news release. “The Tennessee RiverLine project will engage students across campus as we move forward with mapping potential trail locations, creating interpretive signage about the history of our region to be placed along the trail, and developing outdoor recreation programs related to the RiverLine.”

Students in the outdoor recreation, public history and geography programs are a few who may benefit from this experience, Crawford said.

The Shoals is among five Tennessee River “pilot” communities working to create the continuous regional trail system.

Others are Roane County, Tennessee; Bridgeport, Alabama; Benton County, Tennessee; and Paducah-McCraken County, Kentucky.
(Associated Press, copyright 2018)

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