The Wire

  • Decatur doctor accused of sexual assault responds to lawsuit

    Excerpt from WHNT:

    A Decatur doctor accused of sexually assaulting several of his patients is disputing all claims of wrongdoing. Dr. Michael Dick of Alabama Medicine and Rheumatology Clinic responded to a lawsuit filed on behalf of six women who claim to be his former patients. The doctor also filed a protective order asking a judge to stop the victims from sharing their stories with the media.

    A Birmingham-based attorney responded on behalf of Dr. Dick saying there is “no basis to contend he preys on female patients as alleged in the complaint.” The lawsuit filed against Dr. Dick says female members of the nursing staff were present with him. He says no misconduct took place, as alleged in the lawsuit. The response also says employees who work at the medical practice deny any misconduct.

  • Bobby Bright says ‘D.C. powerbrokers’ pushed Trump to endorse Martha Roby

    Excerpt from AL.com:

    Bobby Bright says ‘D.C. powerbrokers’ pushed Trump to endorse Martha Roby in Alabama’s District 2 race.

    “I understand politics and how Washington works. It appears the D.C. powerbrokers have gotten to the President on this issue. It’s truly a swamp of insiders controlled by big money special interests, the same crowd who’s bankrolling Martha Roby’s campaign to the tune of over $1 million just this year,” Bright said in a statement. “It’s a place where loyalty doesn’t exist. When you take that much money from D.C., New York and California, you lose sight of Alabama.”

    Incumbent Roby will face Bobby Bright — a former congressman she defeated in 2010 — in a runoff next month. Bright served one term in Congress as a Democrat, but switched parties to run against Roby in this year’s Republican primary.

  • Man accused of trying to run over police officer, charged with attempted murder

    Excerpt from ABC 33/40:

    A man accused of trying to run over a police officer was charged with attempted murder Friday, Shelby County authorities confirm.

    Chief Assistant District Attorney Roger Hepburn says Issai Serrano is the suspect connected with a Wednesday afternoon shooting involving an Alabaster Police officer. The shooting occurred at Morgan Road and South Shades Crest Road, said Hoover Police officers, who were the first to respond to the scene.

8 months ago

Briggs & Stratton Invests $12 Million, Creates 50 Jobs in Auburn

Photo from MadeInAlabama.com
Photo from MadeInAlabama.com

Governor Ivey announced on Monday that Briggs & Stratton Corporation, a Milwaukee-based company, is planning to begin production of V-twin big block engines at its Auburn facility in 2018. The company will invest $12 million for this project, ultimately creating 50 jobs.

“Briggs & Stratton is a valuable, longtime member of Alabama’s business community, and the company’s decision to expand its product manufacturing in Auburn is a testament to the strong partnership we have developed together over the years,” Governor Ivey said. “I’m committed to creating an ideal environment for commerce and letting the world know that Alabama is open for business.”

The company has implemented a related operation at its facility in Statesboro, Georgia. Both are part of the Briggs & Stratton’s strategic commercial engine growth plan.

“We see this as a strategic competitive advantage because we can manufacture close to our customers in the U.S., which allows us to be more price competitive and shortens the supply chain for our customers,” said David Rodgers, senior vice president and president of Engines and Power at Briggs & Stratton.

Mayor Bill Ham thanked Briggs & Stratton for its dedication to and support of the Auburn community.“We are truly grateful that the leadership at Briggs & Stratton continues to trust our community with their investment,” he said. “The contributions to our economy and the lives of our citizens cannot be overstated. From providing jobs to helping fund our annual Fourth of July fireworks display for many years running, they are an outstanding corporate member of the community.”

Briggs & Stratton is one of the city’s largest industrial employers, with 430 workers. They have been operating in Auburn for 22 years.

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8 months ago

Alabama AG Marshall Shuts Down Fraudulent Credit Repair Company

Attorney General Steve Marshall announced on Monday that a Montgomery credit repair company has been shut down by court order at the request of his office. The Attorney General’s office reached a settlement with Scott’s Credit Repair and its owners John C. Scott and Krystal Scott, in which the defendants are prohibited from engaging in any credit reporting activity and barred from owning or managing any business within the state of Alabama.

The court issued the injunction on October 25 in response to a complaint filed by the Attorney General’s office on October 23. The Attorney General’s complaint stated that “from beginning to end, the consumer experience with Scott’s Credit Repair is rooted in deception and illegality.”

“These defendants conducted their business in flagrant disregard of the law and without concern for providing an honest and worthwhile service to their customers,” Marshall said. “This action should send a message to others that the State of Alabama will put a stop to such unscrupulous practices.”

According to a press release from Marshall’s office, Scott’s Credit Repair frequently deceived and defrauded customers in Montgomery and throughout the state. The defendants “engaged in deceptive advertising that perpetuates their empty promises of better lives for their customers, they have made false statements to both credit bureaus and to consumers, they have defrauded consumers by illegally charging them before services are completed and by charging them different rates than those they advertise, and they have failed to permit at least one consumer to cancel their services within three days in violation of the federal law governing credit repair businesses.”

The Attorney General’s office accused the defendants of several fraudulent advertising schemes, including paying customers to write fraudulent, positive reviews. Marshall’s office also alleges that the defendants practiced “jamming” to create the illusion of improved credit. In extreme cases, the defendants would claim that customers had been victims of identity theft in order to get negative items removed from their credit report.

In addition to illegal business practices, the defendants also accepted payment in a manner contrary to law. Scott’s Credit Repair repeatedly forced customers to pay for services up front, even though it is illegal to do so, and even prevented customers from cancelling services within the allowed three day window.

Attorney General Marshall was pleased to prevent such a deceptive and evil business from operating with Alabama consumers.

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8 months ago

Roby Speaks Out Against Eugenics Policies at Down Syndrome Hearing

Courtesy of Martha Roby (Twitter)
Courtesy of Martha Roby (Twitter)

Dialogue from a Congressional appropriations hearing on the advancement of research on Down Syndrome held last week has taken the country by storm. As we reported yesterday, Mr. Frank Stephens, who has Down Syndrome, provided a compelling testimony before the committee, making the strong case for the sanctity of human life. Stephens and others had gone before the committee to speak out against eugenics practices of aborting babies who are expected to be born with Down Syndrome. Stephens concluded that his life is “worth living.”

Alabama’s own Representative Martha Roby was also at the hearing, along with some special guests from Dothan: Melinda McClendon and her two sons Buck and Charlie. Buck has down syndrome, and he and his family are visiting Washington as part of the Global Down Syndrome Foundation’s advocacy efforts.

“Melinda and her two sons Buck and Charlie are my constituents from Dothan, Alabama,” Roby said. “I’m so proud to have you here as advocates from my community to share your personal story. I had the opportunity to take Buck down to the House floor during votes, and we all got to see firsthand Buck’s infectious personality and love for life.”

During the hearing, Roby passionately denounced the practices of countries like Iceland, Denmark, and South Korea are encouraging parents to abort babies with Down Syndrome. While these countries have claimed that they have nearly eradicated the genetic disease from their populations, it seems they are willing to commit mass murder in the process.

“Every baby should be treated like the miracle they are created to be,” Roby said. “As we talk about growing our research capabilities, including through funding from this subcommittee, how can you assure us that the medical community won’t slide down the slippery slope toward eugenics, however indirect the practice might be?”

Dr. Joaquin M. Espinosa, Executive Director of the Linda Crnic Institute for Down Syndrome, assured Roby that the American medical community would not even tangentially support similar eugenics practices. He said that American medical professionals instead would be dedicated to improving the lives of those born with Down Syndrome.

“Our mission is to improve the lives of people with Down Syndrome, including through pre-natal treatments,” Espinosa said. “You can have assurance from the Linda Crnic Institute that no research would even be tangentially tied to selective terminations.”

As more and more in our world seem to radically forget the sanctity of life, it is imperative that we have more legislators like Representative Roby, and people like Frank Stephens and Buck McClendon, to keep up the fight for those lives worth living.

RELATED: Down Syndrome Man Offers Moving Testimony for the Sanctity of Life

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8 months ago

President Trump Nominates Alabamian to Top Administration Position

Michael Griffin
Michael Griffin

On Friday, President Trump announced his nomination of Michael D. Griffin, an Alabamian, to be Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics.

The Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics (OUSD AT&L) serves as the principal advisor to the Secretary of Defense and Deputy Secretary of Defense in all matters regarding acquisition, technology, and logistics. According to the OUSD(AT&L) website, Congress has authorized the office to supervise Department of Defense acquisition, establish acquisition policies for all elements of the Department of Defense (including procurement of goods and services, research and development, testing, and contract administration), establish logistic policies for the Department of Defense, and establish policies to maintain the defense industrial base of the United States.

In addition to those duties, the office also has oversight responsibility to several military installations, including chemical, biological, and nuclear defense programs.

Dr. Griffin has most recently served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Schafer Corporation. The Schafer Corporation provides scientific, engineering, and technical services and products in the national security sector. He has also served as the administrator of NASA, where his successes included the architecture for space shuttle replacement, plans for human return to the moon, and the development of the first commercial cargo delivery service to Earth’s orbit.

Griffin has received many accolades throughout his career, including the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal, the AIAA Space Systems Medal, and the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal. He also boasts degrees from Johns Hopkins University, the Catholic University of America, the University of Maryland, the University of Southern California, Loyola College; and George Washington University.

If confirmed, Griffin will serve alongside Ellen M. Lord, who was confirmed by the Senate in August 2017 as Under Secretary for Defense (AT&L).

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8 months ago

Another HOGZILLA Spotted in Alabama

A massive hog, big enough to feed bacon to the whole state of Alabama, was spotted in Phenix City.

Angela Rena was walking through a park on October 26 when she saw the enormous Hogzilla wandering the streets of the neighborhood.

Issa Whole Hog 🐷 why yall sending me all these friends request 👀HE'S NOT MY FRIEND 😂😂(For licensing or usage, contact licensing@viralhog.com)

Posted by Angela Rena on Friday, October 27, 2017

The hog is more than likely someone’s pet rather than a wild feral hog. However, this is not the first giant pig spotted in Alabama. As we reported earlier this year, Wade Seago shot an 820 lb. monster in his front yard in Samson, Alabama in July.

Imagine stumbling upon one of these during your morning run!

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8 months ago

Parks for Patriots – Veterans to Receive Free Admission to AL State Parks

Cheaha State Park
Cheaha State Park

Beginning November 1, Alabama State Parks will provide veterans with free admission to state parks that charge an entry fee or day-usage fee. The program called “Parks for Patriots” hopes to thank veterans for their bravery and service to our country.

“Our parks and public lands are places for reflection and serenity, and they stand as a tribute to those who have served our great nation,” Greg Lein, Alabama State Parks Director, said in a news release. “For years we have offered free state park admission to veterans on Veterans Day. Expanding that access year-round is the least we can do for those who have made our freedom possible.”

Alabama State Parks highlighted the deep connection the state’s parks have with veterans. Many of the parks were built with help from the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which employed many World War  I veterans during the Great Depression.

Alabama State Parks encourages other guests to offer a donation to sponsor a veteran. “Your donation, combined with other sponsor contributions, will allow us to honor the men and women who have served our great country,” a statement on their website said. Donations can be made in three ways: online, at any state park entrance gate (cash only), or at point-of-sale cash register at park offices, restaurants, etc.

The Parks for Patriots program only applies to park admission. It does not cover other concessions or fee-based adventures inside the park.

“I am so thankful for all of our veterans and I am glad we can offer them free admission to our State Parks,” said Chris Blankenship, Commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. “As Veterans Day approaches, we urge all Alabamians to consider sponsoring our veterans by contributing to this new program. It’s just one of the ways we can all show our gratitude for their selfless service to the country.”

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8 months ago

Auburn Student Develops Algorithm that Detects #FakeNews

Photo courtesy of Auburn University
Photo courtesy of Auburn University

According to Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business, a doctoral candidate in business analytics is a part of a research team that has developed an algorithm that can detect fake news. Ross Gruetzemacher and the Auburn research team will present their findings before judges at the Teradata University Network Analytics Challenge in Anaheim, Ca. on Oct. 22-23.

According to the college’s press release, social media platforms have recently launched offensives against bots and individuals that deliberately push false news stories, misinformation, and hoaxes into the public sphere. While politicians have stressed the possibility of this “fake news” swaying elections, there is also evidence that it can sway financial markets.

Recently, a false headline suggesting that Google was planning on purchasing Apple for $9 billion began to circulate around the internet. While the headline was simply a hoax, Apple’s stock made a minor jump as the article made its rounds. JPMorgan Chase has suggested that this could be due to the fact that only 10 percent of daily stock trades are performed by humans. The rest are conducted by computer algorithms that can scan news headlines for trading tidbits. When fake news is spread, that artificial intelligence could be lead to make a bad decision.

“We have been collecting Twitter data nonstop since about March,” said Gruetzemacher on training the algorithm. “We generate topic clusters from real and fake news and use it to classify news stories as either real or fake.”

“Specifically, the study of fake news is significant to ensure the integrity of political and civil discourse in this country and throughout the world,” he said. “It’s significant to provide everyone with true information and to not confuse people with the dissemination of fake news as, or portrayed as, a legitimate news article.”

The algorithm could be a huge asset for social media platforms in the near future, as more and more people being to rely on social media and the internet as their main news source.

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8 months ago

Amazon Acquires Wholesale Pharmacy License in Alabama

(W.Miller/YHN)

Free 2-day shipping on all of your prescription needs? Drone-delivered medical supplies? That may not be as far fetched as you might think. According to the Chicago Tribune, Amazon has received approval from multiple state boards to become a wholesale pharmaceutical distributer – including in Alabama.

A review of public records has revealed that Amazon has received approval from state pharmaceutical boards in Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Idaho, Louisiana, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Dakota, Oregon, and Tennessee. An application is also pending in Maine. These reports have fueled speculation that the e-commerce giant is looking to move into the prescription drug delivery business – an industry currently consisting of only a handful of companies.

When asked for comment by multiple media sources, Amazon has responded that the company does not comment on “rumors and speculation.” Still, it seems the company is at least experimenting with an entrance into the pharmaceutical industry. If it chooses to continue, Amazon could either purchase or partner with an existing pharmacy benefit manager, or build those capabilities from within.

An analysis of each of the applications does not provide much clarity to Amazon’s intentions. For instance, the North Dakota license specifies that the company could medical devices or medical gas. However, the license in Nevada lists “legend pharmaceuticals, supplies, or devices and hypodermic devices” as the products that could be potentially handled by the wholesaler. The box indicating the ability to ship controlled substances was left unchecked on the Nevada license.

The Alabama licenses were approved in May and expire on December 31. Each license gives the company the permission to ship products from Amazon facilities in Indiana. Amazon’s entrance into this market could be a game changer for the pharmaceutical industry. Experts estimate that pharmaceuticals could earn the company $50 billion a year.

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8 months ago

Federal Judge Blocks Alabama Abortion Laws

Women attendants of a Planned Parenthood rally try to keep dry after a sudden storm moved through the Tampa area on August 29. (Photo: Mallory Benedict/PBS NewsHour)
Women attendants of a Planned Parenthood rally try to keep dry after a sudden storm moved through the Tampa area on August 29.
(Photo: Mallory Benedict/PBS NewsHour)

A federal district judge has permanently blocked two Alabama abortion laws that tried to restrict abortion clinics near schools and ban a common second-trimester procedure.

U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson issued the 148 page ruling on Thursday, saying that the laws are unconstitutional. “Because these laws clearly impose an impermissible burden on a woman’s ability to choose an abortion, they cannot stand,” the judge wrote.

Both laws were passed by the Alabama legislature and were set to take affect August 1 of this year. However, Thompson ordered a temporary blocking of the enforcement of the laws, which became permanent by his Thursday ruling.

The laws sought to ban abortion clinics from operating within 2,000 feet of public K-8 schools. Thompson claimed that the law would require the state’s two largest abortion clinics in Huntsville and Tuscaloosa to close. The legislature also hoped to ban the second-trimester operation known as dilation and evacuation.

According to ABC 33/40, the American Civil Liberties Union called the decision a “great victory” for women.

A spokesman for the Alabama Attorney General’s office said that the state will appeal the ruling.

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8 months ago

Trump Declares Opioid Epidemic a Public Health Crisis – What It Means for Alabama

On Thursday, President Trump held a press conference in order to declare the national opioid epidemic as a public health emergency. Trump declared that “as Americans, we cannot allow this to continue. It is time to liberate our communities from the scourge of drug addiction… We can be the generation that ends the drug epidemic. We can do it.”

According to the Washington Post, Trump’s declaration will give states more freedom in how they use federal funds to combat the epidemic, as well as expand the use of telemedicine treatment. It also orders acting Secretary of Health and Human Services Eric Hargan to direct all federal agencies to use any emergency personnel to contribute to the reduction of opioid related deaths across the nation.

Alabama senator Richard Shelby praised the president for his efforts to combat the epidemic.

“I applaud the President and his Administration on their efforts to end the opioid epidemic. This is a real emergency, and it affects just about every community in our country. Senator Jeanne Shaheen and I have been working on our Appropriations Subcommittee to make sure that both law enforcement and the Justice Department have the tools they need to fight this epidemic. It is going to take a massive effort, and I fully support President Trump’s attention to this matter.”

The last time a public health emergency of this magnitude was called was in 2009, in response to the H1N1 flu virus. The emergency status will last 90 days, but can be repeatedly renewed.

Hargan noted that in the current fiscal year, HHS has invested $900 million in “opioid specific funding” to help state and local governments provide treatment and take other measures to curtail the epidemic. Some other measures that are being put in place by Trump’s declaration include an attempt by the FDA to require “a specific opioid, which is truly evil, to be taken off the market.” Trump did not specify the specific drug at the time. He also announced the the United States Postal Service and Homeland Security will strengthen package inspections to crack down on the distribution of fentanyl through the postal service. Finally, Trump suggested that a large scale advertising campaign may be the best tool to keep the public aware of the dangers of opioid addiction.

In Alabama, state officials have been working for months to minimize the effects of the epidemic in the state. Attorney General Steve Marshall has joined coalitions with other state Attorneys General to force pharmaceutical companies to do their part to combat the epidemic. The Alabama Opioid Overdose and Addiction Council, of which Marshall is a co-chair, is set to advise Governor Ivey by the end of the year on ways that the epidemic can be stopped in Alabama. Their suggestions are expected to include new approaches to treatment, law enforcement, and legislation.

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8 months ago

Alabama Baby Steals the Show with Costume Spoofing July’s Peanut Butter Jail-Break

Just when you thought you might win the best Halloween costume of the year, one Alabama baby steals the show before Halloween even arrives.

Townley Community Center held a Halloween Carnival earlier this week, and five-month-old Jaxon dressed up as one of the inmates who used peanut butter to escape the Walker County Jail. Yes, this was a real thing that happened.

Just in case you missed it, you can check out the story here: Related: Alabama’s Final Escaped Inmate Captured In Florida

The Townley Center said that the creative and hilarious costume was the best they saw at the carnival. Even if baby Jaxon won’t remember it, there’s no doubt this award-winning costume will live in infamy in family photo albums and Walker County breakfast counters, barbershops, and coffee bars.

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8 months ago

University of Alabama Receives DOJ Grant to Combat Human Trafficking

University of Alabama quad (Photo: University of Alabama)
University of Alabama quad (Photo: University of Alabama)

According to a press release from the University of Alabama, the University’s School of Social Work has received a $1.35 million grant from the United States Department of Justice to help young Alabamians who are victims of human sex trafficking.

The Juvenile Victims of Human Trafficking in Alabama Project aims to develop the state’s ongoing relationship with treatment centers and law enforcement and develop a statewide screening and training program. The project will also design a database resource system, Safe immediately-Accessible Resources for Trafficked Youth, known as SMARTY, which will coordinate trauma-informed services to fully meet the needs of trafficked youth.

“There are a lot of people doing a lot of amazing work to target this problem in Alabama, but what this grant will do is really coordinate those efforts with a unified protocol for helping children who are victims,” said Dr. Javonda Williams, UA associate professor of social work and principal investigator of the grant. “This will unify those pockets of great services in the state, give us a common language, a common to-do list for support and help.”

The three-year project will assess needs and resources throughout the state, as UA researchers create training systems catered to each Alabama county. This will help local communities be better prepared to support victims of trafficking. Finally, the project will develop a statewide database of information and resources to help with the fight against human trafficking.

“We’re not going to produce another big book training where they go back to their part of the state and do not have the same resources and services of a larger county,” Williams said. “We’ll need to catch up with what traffickers are currently doing and fit that into both smaller and larger areas. We need to be as nimble as the perpetrators.”

According to the Human Trafficking Hotline, there have been 300 trafficking cases in Alabama since 2007. The majority of these cases are related to sex trafficking. Human trafficking is the second-largest and fastest-growing criminal industry in the world, according to the Alabama Human Trafficking Task Force.

“Many have no idea how prevalent human trafficking is at every corner of the state,” said Sally Longshore, who serves on the Task Force.

The University of Alabama hopes that the grant will enable its faculty and researchers to understand better how human trafficking is affecting the state, to educate the public and lawmakers on ways to combat human trafficking and support the victims of such a horrible crime.

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8 months ago

Milo’s Tea Expands with New Headquarters in Bessemer

Courtesy of Milo's Tea
Courtesy of Milo’s Tea

Milo’s Tea has reached a huge milestone as they announce the continued growth of their Alabama operation and a newly expanded 15.5-acre headquarters in Bessemer. The new campus includes 150,000 square feet of production, shipping, storage, and office space.

That’s tremendous growth compared to the 30,000 square foot facility on 3.5 acres that opened just 15 years ago.

The new facility allows the company to fresh brew and bottle over 250 gallons of all-natural beverages per minute. Those beverages are housed in a 30,000 square foot cooler before they are shipped to over 13,000 retailers in 42 states.

The Milo’s Tea company has seen tremendous growth over the past few years. In 2013, it had just 56 employees. Four years later, that number has nearly tripled, as they now employ more than 150 full-time staff.

“When my grandparents Milo and Bea Carlton founded their restaurant, Milo’s Tea, in 1964 after my granddad returned from serving in World War II. The company’s philosophy was simple – use high-quality, natural ingredients, listen to your customers, and never sacrifice taste,” said Patricia Wallwork, CEO of Milo’s Tea Company. “This vision still guides the company today as we source natural ingredients, fresh brew all our award-winning beverages in Bessemer, and never uses added colors or preservatives.”

Milo’s Tea began the expansion project in 2014 by purchasing a building on Dublin Lane from the Bessemer Industrial Development Board. New 30,000 square foot coolers and shipping facilities were added to the property, enabling the company to store over 300,000 bottles of Milo’s Tea beverages. The company now has the capacity to promptly ship 100 trailers per day to ensure that the freshest products are on the shelves. The upgrades also included new water treatment technology, allowing employees to filter City of Bessemer water for the best-tasting result.

In addition to brewing their refreshing beverages, Milo’s Tea has had a long-standing commitment to the community.

“As a Certified Zero Waste Manufacturer, we have invested in research on reusing spent tea for more than 10 years and we are a leader in sustainable manufacturing. This is a direct result of our innovation and ongoing commitment to aggressive recycling programs which have a significant impact on our environment. The community of Bessemer is our home and we are dedicated to making a positive impact here. We currently donate tons of spent tea to the City of Bessemer golf course and area composting sites, diverting thousands of tons of waste from local landfills each year.”

Milo’s Tea thanks the City of Bessemer, Jefferson County, and the entire state of Alabama for their support and contribution to the company’s growth. City of Bessemer Mayor, Kenneth E. Gulley said, “Milo’s success is the city of Bessemer’s success, and we’re honored to know as they expand into new markets across the country their product is stamped as ‘Made in Bessemer, Alabama.’”

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8 months ago

Southern Poverty Law Center Sues Gardendale Over Probation Scheme

(City of Gardendale/Facebook)
Courtesy of the City of Gardendale (Facebook)

As reported by ABC 33/40, the Southern Poverty Law Center has filed a lawsuit against the city of Gardendale, accusing the city of implementing an illegal probation scheme. The SPLC alleges that the city is making those who can’t afford court fines and costs pay more, forcing many low income citizens into deeper debt.

According to Sara Zampeirin from the SPLC, the city of Gardendale has been using a third party company to exploit low income residents for over 20 years. The lawsuit alleges that the city is putting those who cannot afford court fines and fees on an illegal probation, supervised by a third party company, Professional Probation Services (PPS). PPS charges $40 a month for its services.

“Our clients have been systematically harassed,” Zampeirin said. “The constitution requires that those who serve the court act in a neutral manner. Instead, this sets up a system where the private company profits from every decision that it makes.”

Gardendale Mayor Stan Hogeland declined to comment on the matter. “At this time, all I can say is that I am talking to the city attorney and we will be issuing a statement on the lawsuit at a later time.”

Zampeirin says several defendants were not given the option of community service to repay their debts, and only one SPLC client has been able to pay the monthly charges. One defendant, who was put on probation with PPS, was not able to make consistent payments on her $715 in fines and fees was sent to jail for five days.

One Gardendale resident has likened the situation to a debtor’s prison. “It’s like they are never going to get out of debt. It’s one step forward, two steps back and it’s a never ending circle.”

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8 months ago

Witness in Montgomery Trial Gunned Down After Testifying

Jacquees Boone (left) and Josephus Boone (right). Courtesy of Montgomery County Jail

Montgomery Circuit Judge Roman Shaul has declared a mistrial in Jacquees Boone’s murder and assault case after a key witness for the state was shot and killed outside of the courthouse just five minutes after testifying.

As reported by WSFA, Kelvin Cooley (31) testified Monday as the state’s third witness in the case. He was shot inside his car less than five minutes after he left the stand. Cooley was rushed to the hospital, but died early Tuesday morning from his injuries. He was the brother of Alondre Cooley, the victim who was shot in the face by Boone and paralyzed in 2014.

In 2014, Jacquees Boone was hired by a local drug dealer to get revenge against Cooley’s family for helping investigators bust a drug ring. After the shooting, Cooley’s family retaliated against Boone. Members of the family shot Boone, leaving him paralyzed for some time. Boone was convicted of attempted murder in 2014, but the Alabama Supreme Court threw it out due to evidence presented in the first trial.

Alondre Cooley’s other brother, Marcus, was also set to testify in the case. However, he was shot and killed on August 20 in a seemingly unrelated drug incident.

Now, Boone’s case continues like the plot to a Grisham novel. Officials arrested Josephus Boone (25) in connection with Kelvin Cooley’s death on Tuesday. Judge Shaul also ordered Jacquees Boone to be held without bond in connection to Cooley’s murder.

Judge Shaul interviewed several jurors to determine how much they heard surrounding Monday’s shooting. He stated that some jurors were scared, hadn’t slept, and had directly asked if the shooting was connected to Boone’s prosecution. Shaul granted the mistrial, stating that the shooting could have a direct influence over the jury.

The Alabama Attorney General’s office is set to prosecute Josephus Boone due to the Montgomery District Attorney’s Office’s entangled connection in the case. A bond revocation hearing will be set for Jacquees Boone in the near future.

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8 months ago

Ted Cruz Endorses Roy Moore for Senate

On Tuesday, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) announced his support for Roy Moore as Alabama’s next senator. Cruz said that he needs more principled conservative allies like Moore in Washington, and, unlike the Democrat candidate, Moore will proudly defend the rights of Alabamians and Americans alike.

“This December, the People of Alabama have a clear choice. They can choose a liberal Democrat, who will stand with Chuck Schumer to raise taxes, weaken our military, open our border, and undermine our constitutional rights. Or, they can choose to elect Judge Roy Moore, a conservative who will proudly defend Alabama values.

I strongly urge the voters to elect Judge Roy Moore. Judge Moore has a lifelong passion for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, and he has the courage of his convictions.

In the Senate, we need reinforcements; we desperately need strong conservatives who will stand up to the Washington status quo.

Please join me in supporting Judge Moore on December 12.”

In response to the endorsement, Moore remarked:

“Ted Cruz has been a stalwart defender of our constitutional rights. I appreciate his strong endorsement and I look forward to collaborating with him on proposals to strengthen the U.S. military, cut spending, and lower taxes on American families and businesses.”

Cruz’s endorsement comes as conservative leaders across the country are coming to Moore’s aid. It seems the party is doing everything it can to ensure Moore defeats Democrat Doug Jones on December 12.

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8 months ago

Alabama Cheerleader Explores New Heights

The University of Alabama typically makes sports news for its huge linemen, towering receivers, and thundering running backs. However, one small Alabama student has taken the internet by storm.

Isabella Donahue, a University of Alabama cheerleader, posted a picture of her and Rachel Kramer, a volleyball player from Florida, that has the entire internet laughing.

Donahue originally posted the picture with the caption “If you’re wondering how big a 2 foot distance is.” Many were startled at how high Kramer towered over her. According to campusnews.net, Donahue is 4 feet 8 inches tall, while Kramer is 6 feet 8 inches.

The post immediately went viral, as it was spread by the SEC and national media outlets such as NBCSN, SB Nation, and SEC Network. It even prompted others to share their lopsided height pictures as well.

It just goes to show, even viral pictures can come in small packages.

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8 months ago

Birmingham Among 238 Locations Vying for Amazon’s HQ2

Amazon announced this week that it has received 238 proposals from 54 states, provinces, territories, and districts across North America for its next headquarters. The tech giant is expected to directly invest $5 billion in the project and create 50,000 high paying jobs. The project is also likely to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions in additional investment in the surrounding community.

Birmingham is one of the many cities vying for Amazon’s attention. The city began a campaign called “Bring Amazon to Birmingham” (or “BringAtoB”) to create a buzz surrounding the new HQ2. City leaders erected large Amazon boxes and placed them at major locations around the city. They also encouraged Birmingham residents to create a social media buzz by using the hashtag #BringAtoB.

The city has even created a Twitter account Bring A to B that relentlessly posts hints aimed toward Amazon about moving to the Magic City.

Amazon is looking for locations with strong talent, especially in software development. Birmingham has seen rapid growth in its tech sector, as evidenced by local tech companies such as Shipt, and could provide the skilled workforce that Amazon is looking for.

Amazon has said that they chose a public forum for the selection process because they want to find a city that is excited to work with them. Birmingham is pulling out all of the stops to prove they are the best location for HQ2. Will Amazon make the move to the Magic City? We’ll have to wait to see!

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8 months ago

Nine Shot, Two Killed in Nightclub Shooting in Lanett

Police continue to investigate a shooting that left two dead and seven wounded at a nightclub in Lanett, Alabama early Sunday morning. Lanett police chief Angie Spates said that a shooter opened fire at Club Addiction just before 2 a.m., killing one man and one woman.

“We heard the shots, and everybody scattered,” recalled club patron Bridget King. “They were going pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. It seemed like a lot of shots.” According to the Opelika-Auburn News, King was standing outside of the club when the shooting began. She found cover behind a dumpster and remained there until the chaos was over.

Michael Woody owns the building that houses Club Addiction and was next door when he heard shots ringing out. “We had some people having a birthday party, and we noticed that a lot of young kids were running from there through my parking lot,” Woody said. “I went to the door, and I heard some shots going off. It was a lot of people just running. They were running, trying to get away.”

Police arrived and found one man with a critical gunshot wound lying on the pavement. He was taken to East Alabama Medical Center-Lanier, but was pronounced dead at the hospital.

“During that time, there was a young lady who was parked up the street, on the side of the road. We noticed some more shooting going on up there,” Woody said. “Someone shot into that young lady’s car, during the time the police officers were here. They had no regard for the police or anybody.”

Police are trying to determine how many shooters were actually involved. The gunman(men) allegedly stormed into the club, firing a weapon. A security guard attempted to restrain the suspect, but was shot in the hand.

Woody estimates that there were between 275 and 375 patrons in the club at the time of the shooting. He said that this incident provides more evidence for ensuring that criminals face strict penalties for actions related to gun violence.

“One lady asked me if the business would close,” he said. “I don’t know what the city might do, but I can tell you right now, that ain’t the solution. These people need to be locked up and put off the street for good, not get out on parole. They need to stay locked up for the rest of their days, because they took some family member away from their mothers or children.”

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8 months ago

Birmingham Movement Goes to W.A.R. with Crime in the City

As reported by ABC 33/40 News, a new effort to fight crime is developing in Birmingham. Just one week after a man was shot and killed outside of the Onyx Night Club, a group of activists met to discuss the city’s increasing crime problem.

The group emphasized the importance of communication and getting everyone on the same page when it comes to crime and violence reform. Keith Davis, owner of the Onyx Night Club, acknowledged that “Birmingham right now is in a violent epidemic.” The city is coming off its deadliest year in over a decade in 2016, with not much change seen over the course of this year. “Everybody has to be accountable because it is a city problem,” Davis said.

Eric Wynn is leading the group named W.A.R. (We’re All Related). He lost his brother to gun violence and spent ten years in prison himself. Now, Wynn hopes to do something that other organizations have failed to do in the past: work together. “In order for any type of movement, any type of crime reduction, you’re going to have to get people organized,” said Wynn. “In the same room, in the same building and familiar together.”

The group envisions a campaign that splits members into two groups: motivators and activators. Motivators would encourage people in crime-affected communities, while activators would educate those communities on specific programs and services that can stop those violent trends.

Another meeting will be held November 5.

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8 months ago

Alabama to Step Up Enforcement of Automobile Liability Insurance Law

The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency (ALEA) has announced plans to step up its enforcement of the automobile liability insurance law beginning in November. According to the Decatur Daily, drivers without insurance will face stricter fines and penalties.

12.9 percent of Alabama drivers are uninsured, according to the Alabama Department of Revenue. Motorists are required by the Mandatory Liability Insurance law passed in 2016 to have liability insurance that includes at least $100,000 in coverage. “There has been a grace period in enforcing that law to give motorists some time to obtain the proper insurance coverage,” ALEA Secretary Hal Taylor said.

The law says that no one can register, maintain, or operate an automobile unless it is covered by a liability insurance policy. A form of the law was passed in 2011 but amended last year. Before the 2011 law was passed, Alabama had the sixth-highest percentage of uninsured motorists at 22 percent. That percentage has been cut in half since.

Taylor said that those involved in a car accident or traffic stop could be written a citation, or face a civil penalty later,  for not holding the proper insurance. Drivers without insurance could face a $200 penalty for their first offense, $300 for the second, and $400 for subsequent offenses.

“When involved in a traffic incident (traffic stop or crash), some drivers have been known to present what appear to be valid insurance cards. When checked, however, it turns out the drivers had let the liability insurance lapse,” ALEA Chief Public Information Officer Robyn Bryan said.

Those who fail to pay the penalty within 45 days could have their license suspended for 90 days.

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8 months ago

College Football Preview: Auburn vs. Arkansas

The Auburn Tigers are set to travel to Fayetteville to face off against the Arkansas Razorbacks this Saturday. The next SEC match-up for the Tigers is set to be broadcast on the SEC Network at 6:30 p.m.

Auburn is coming off a devastating loss at the hands of LSU in Baton Rouge. Just as the Tigers appeared to be the dark horse candidate in the SEC West with a shot at the playoff, their dreams went out the door as the offense struggled to produce anything in the second half of the 27-23 loss to LSU. It isn’t all over for the Tigers. If they win out, a 10-2 Auburn would be in prime position to appear in the SEC championship and nab a spot in the playoff. However, that won’t be easy, with SEC foes Georgia and Alabama lurking at the end of the road in November.

First, the Tigers have to make it through Arkansas. The Razorbacks’ dreams of a successful season were crushed nearly before the season began. Last week, Bret Bielema and his team were devoured by Alabama in a 41-9 pummeling. With starting quarterback Austin Allen still out with a shoulder injury, backup QB Cole Kelley is stuck running the Arkansas offense for now. Kelley struggled to get much going against the Crimson Tide last week, throwing for 200 yards with just one touchdown and an interception.

While there’s a small chance Allen could return this week, any Razorbacks offense will have a hard time against the aggressive Auburn defense. LSU managed to find holes in the Auburn defense last week, racking up big plays with their signature jet sweeps and exploiting Auburn’s secondary for a few downfield passes. However, if the Auburn defense that held Clemson to just 281 yards and two touchdowns shows up, it will be lights out for the Arkansas offense.

Auburn should bounce back in this game, but it will depend on which team shows up. If both sides of the ball show up and play like they have against Missouri, Mississippi State, and Ole Miss, then Auburn should have another SEC win in the books. However, if the same effort and play calling that the Tigers brought to LSU is repeated, Arkansas may give Auburn and Gus Malzahn a run for their money.

Auburn vs. Arkansas Prediction

Auburn – 35

Arkansas – 13

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8 months ago

Alabama Company and Others Near Completion of Border Wall Prototypes

(U.S. Customs and Border Protection/Flickr)

Construction crews are toiling away in the intense California heat as they put the finishing touches on prototypes for President Trump’s border wall with Mexico. The crews have been given an October 26 deadline, which is rapidly approaching.

The Arizona Republic, toured the construction site, where they found five of the wall designs already complete. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection awarded eight contracts to six companies, one of which is from the Yellowhammer State.

Most of the designs all use reinforced concrete to construct the wall, while others add some elements of steel panelling and other materials. Each firm has taken the liberty of putting its own twist on the design. The wall built by the Alabama company, for instance, has a large concrete base that tapers into a thinner frame at the top. Each wall is 30 feet tall, and will be tested for flaws allowing criminals to tunnel through or climb over them.

Their height is meant to serve as a deterrent to would-be criminals seeking to cross the border illegally. “The 30 feet is very impressive,” said Mario Villareal, the division chief for the San Diego Sector Border Patrol. “What we’re trying to accomplish is by putting tactical infrastructure on the border, by having all-weather roads, by putting Border Patrol agents on the immediate border, is the deterrence.”

The Trump administration later called for “see-through” features to be incorporated so that border agents can easily patrol the other side of the wall. A second design by the Alabama company incorporates narrowly-spaced metal bars for the bottom half of the wall, and solid concrete panels for the upper half.

“It’s good to be able to see through the south side. We can see them, they can see us,” said Border Patrol agent Theron Francisco. “But in a way, it can be negative because we’re always being watched. They always can see us. It goes both ways.”

Any improvement to the border wall will be much needed. The current metal-mesh fence that lines the international border is made of rusted Vietnam-era landing mats. The prototypes would be nearly twice the size of the current fence and much more stable.

CBP has already funded the building of the prototypes; however, it is unclear if funding for the entire wall will ever make it through Congress. Last week, Trump revamped his requests, appearing to offer a deal with legislators that provides a legal solution to young immigrant “dreamers” living in the country, conditional on Congress appropriating funds for the wall.

After construction is complete next week, CBP officials will begin testing the walls. Depending on the outcome of those tests, the final design could “take key features from each prototype and develop one that will work for us along the border,” Villareal said. “That is something that not only CBP will be looking at, but our engineers, is what is the best utility along the Southwest border?”

RELATED: Alabama Company Awarded Border Wall Prototype Contract

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8 months ago

Alabama Executes Police Killer

Torrey Twane McNabb
Torrey Twane McNabb

Alabama was allowed to proceed with the execution of Torrey Twane McNabb Thursday night, after multiple requests for a stay were filed with the U.S. Supreme Court. McNabb’s attorneys argued that the state’s lethal injection method is inhumane. However, the Supreme Court rejected the requests, and the inmate was executed around 9:30 p.m..

As reported by the Associated Press, McNabb used his last statement to assure his mother and sister that he was not afraid. He cursed at the state saying, “I hate you,” and raised his middle fingers before going still.

McNabb was convicted of killing Montgomery police officer Anderson Gordon, after shooting him five times as he sat in his patrol car. Anderson was responding to a traffic accident that McNabb caused while fleeing from a bail bondsman in September of 1997. At his trial, the jury voted 10-2 to recommend the death penalty for McNabb.

Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall released a statement regarding the execution Thursday night.

“The 20-year wait for justice is finally over for the family of Montgomery Police Corporal Anderson Gordon III. In 1997, Torrey McNabb took the life of Officer Gordon, shooting him five times as he sat in his patrol car. Tonight, the family of Officer Gordon can finally seek peace.”

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