An Odenville man who video-recorded himself raping a 3-year-old girl was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole on Wednesday.
43-year-old Robert Armbrust, Jr. pled guilty last week to rape, sodomy, sex abuse of a child younger than 12, and child porn involving a child younger than 17. St. Clair County Judge Phil Seay sentenced Armbrust to life in prison without parole for the rape charge and life in prison on the remaining charges.
According to Chief Assistant District Attorney Lyle Harmon, Armbrust committed the horrific crimes from June through September 2016 while he and his girlfriend were babysitting a sick friend’s grandchild. Armbrust videotaped and photographed himself committing the child sex crimes.
It was a very good year for Alabama’s student archers at the National Archery in the Schools Program (NASP) Eastern National Championship. Placing in the top five of their shooting categories were two Alabama teams and four individual students. Additionally, an Alabama elementary school student was chosen as an Easton Academic Archer and five Alabama students made the NASP All-American Academic Team.
“We are extremely proud of the performance of Alabama’s student archers,” said Marisa Futral, Hunter Education Coordinator for the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (ADCNR). “Their determination and dedication to both archery and academics is paying off and will serve them well in other aspects of life.”
More than 14,000 archers traveled from 35 states to the competition, which was held May 10-12, 2018, in Louisville, Ky. Alabama’s top five results are listed below.
East Elementary, First Place, Elementary School Division
Alma Bryant High, Fifth Place, High School Division
Kayden Henderson, Vinemont Elementary, Third Place, Elementary School Male Division
Allie Stewart, East Elementary, Fourth Place, Elementary School Female Division
Caleb Thornton, Alma Bryant High, Third Place, in both the overall competition and the High School Male Division with a near perfect score of 297 (out of 300).
International Bowhunters Organization 3D Tournament
East Elementary, First Place
Ava Ray, East Elementary, Second Place, Elementary School Female Division
Allie Stewart, East Elementary, Third Place, Elementary School Female Division
The Easton Academic Archer program highlights students who excel in the classroom as well as on the archery range. Each of the newly chosen academic archers received a Genesis Bow and custom Easton Academic Archer arrows during the tournament.
Pierce Gudger of East Elementary School was chosen as one of 10 academic archers for 2018.
All-American Academic Team
The 2018 NASP All-American Academic Team was formed based on the results of both the NASP Eastern and Western National tournaments and a roster of Academic Archers from across North America. Five students from Alabama have made this year’s team.
Allie Stewart, East Elementary
Jonathan Hall, Breitling Elementary
Taylor Darby, Munford Middle
Justin Liveoak, Chilton County High
Caleb Thornton, Alma Bryant High
"Frontier Airlines will begin direct flights from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport on April 11, the airline announced today. Frontier Airlines will start by offering direct service to Denver, Orlando and Philadelphia from Birmingham. Introductory prices will start at $39."
"At 87, Clint Eastwood is not only trying new things, he’s trying daring new things, and his new film 15:17 to Paris represents one of the most audacious gambits of his career. To dramatize the tale of three Americans who tackled and subdued a heavily armed Islamist terrorist on a train out of Amsterdam in 2015, Eastwood cast the young men, none of whom had professional acting experience, as themselves. It’s a decision with little precedent in the entire history of motion pictures."
Alabama Court Suspends River City Entertainment Until Gambling Machine Case Is Decided
(Photo: Flickr user Dallas1200am)
In Alabama, state law prohibits the use of gambling machines. The code says its illegal to operate, “Any device, machine, paraphernalia or equipment that is normally used or usable in the playing phases of any gambling activity, whether that activity consists of gambling between persons or gambling by a person involving the playing of a machine.”
Today, Attorney General Steve Marshall announced that the Circuit Court of Morgan County has issued an order that temporarily prohibits the operations of River City Entertainment for using gambling machines until its pending case is resolved. Specifically, the court ruled:
“Defendant, River City Entertainment, and its officers, directors, agents, employees, representatives, servants and any other individual, firm, partnership or corporation participating or acting in concert with them…are temporarily RESTRAINED, ENJOINED AND PROHIBITED from operating for public use the electronic gaming machines located at 1804 Highway 231, Laceys Springs, Alabama.”
Attorney General Marshall joined Morgan County District Attorney Scott Anderson in filing the case to stop the use of electronic gambling machines at the facility. This is the first case that has been set for a hearing on the State’s requested injunctive relief, meaning the desired outcome is to force the facility to stop using the machines on the basis that they’re unlawful.
“This is the first step forward in our continued efforts to curtail illegal gambling activity in Alabama,” said Attorney General Steve Marshall. “The next step in this case is to push forward at trial before the Circuit Court of Morgan County and present the findings of our investigation in that public forum. We are confident that our prosecution of this case will shed the light on the illegal activities at River City Entertainment and prove the claims we made in our complaint. My office will continue to work diligently with the District Attorney and Sheriff of Morgan County to make sure that the laws of our state are followed.”
This link provides a full copy of the court order.
Major Leaguer Who Knelt for Anthem Confronted by Waiter in Alabama Restaurant
According to reports by TMZ Sports and the Washington Post today, Huntsville native Bruce Maxwell—a catcher for the Oakland A’s—was out to eat not long ago with Huntsville city councilman Devyn Keith and another friend recently, when his waiter confronted him about kneeling for the National Anthem.
Maxwell’s account of the story is that he ordered a beer with his meal and was asked to show his I.D. Upon doing so, he said the waiter the waiter recognized him as the only the catcher who TMZ said was the “only MLB player who took a knee this season.”
Upon making this connection, the waiter reportedly confronted Maxwell about kneeling. TMZ quoted Councilman Keith’s account of the story: “He said, ‘You are that guy. You are the guy who took a knee,’ ” Keith said. “And then everything changed.”
Maxwell added, “He goes, ‘I voted for Trump, and I stand for everything he stands for.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, really?’ And our councilman went and got their manager and had some words with him and took him off of our table and put us another person on our table. That’s where I’m from.”
Maxwell texted the Washington Post, who quoted him as saying “I’m really over that happening and it’s BS.”
Councilman Keith, a 27-year-old Democrat said the confrontation was “an embarrassment,” but apparently the restaurant’s management responded in a conciliatory fashion as both Keith and Maxwell promised not to reveal the establishment’s name.
The next day, Maxwell knelt during the national anthem before the A’s win and reiterated his decision to kneel during the Start Spangled Banner. As the Post reported, he stated: “My decision had been coming for a long time. The only way we can come together is by informing. … To single out NFL players for doing this isn’t something we should be doing — I felt it should be a little more broad.”
Maxwell has declared his unwavering commitment to resume his demonstration during the anthem next season, which his employer seems to support. The Washington Post published a brief statement from the A’s supporting Maxwell, which read: “The Oakland A’s pride ourselves on being inclusive. We respect and support all our players’ constitutional rights and freedom of expression.”
Maxwell was born on an American military base in Germany while his father was in the Army. He was a standout prep player at Huntsville’s Sparkman High School (where he and Devyn Keith became friends), and he played college ball at Birmingham-Southern.
Sessions Goes All In Against MS-13 For Increased String of Terror
According to a report by Fox News, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has declared that the Justice Department is not in a reactive posture against the MS-13 street gang. Instead, Sessions says, the U.S. is going on the offensive to banish the notorious gang, “just like we took Al Capone off the streets.” The former Alabama Senator turned Attorney General said, we “will use whatever laws we have” to get them off the street.
To give teeth to his declaration, Sessions has directed prosecutors to pursue every legal option, including the enforcement of racketeering, gun and tax laws. Moreover, DoJ’s Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Forces has made MS-13—also known as La Mara Salvatrucha—a top priority.
Addressing the issue on a recent stop in Philadelphia, Sessions said of MS-13: “They leave misery, devastation, and death in their wake. They threaten entire governments. They must be and will be stopped.”
According to the Fox report, Ms-13 is suspected of committing several high-profile murders in New York, Maryland, and Virginia. The gang’s also allegedly beat and two teenage girls in Long Island, and then hacked them to death. The girls just two of the 22 victims DoJ believes to have been murdered on Long Island alone since January 2016.
With a motto of “kill, rape, control,” Sessions President said Ms-13 will be proactively pursued with “renewed vigor and a sharpened focus.”
Alabama Voters Being Pursued for Illegal Crossover Voting
Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill
According to a report by the Florence Times Daily, Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill has stated that his office has identified 674 people who voted in the Democrat primary in August and then voted again the Republican runoff in for the U.S. Senate race in September—which is a violation of Alabama law.
This past year, the Alabama Legislature passed a law prohibiting such “crossover voting between primaries and runoffs, and the violation is a felony punishable by more than one year in prison and a $15,000 fine.
“It’s the law. We’re going to enforce the law. We’re not bullying anybody. We’re enforcing the law,” Merrill commented to the Associated Press.
Merrill also expressed concerns that some poll workers may not be enforcing the law, and indicated that they should likewise be held accountable.
Merrill’s office identified the violators to probate judges across the state.
National Governor’s Association Chooses Alabama For Workforce Development Grant
(Photo: Flickr user Elvert Barnes)
According to a news release from Governor Ivey today, the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices has chosen Alabama as one of six states to participate in a “policy academy” designed to improve work-based learning, designed to produce a more highly-skilled workforce. Work-based learning blends work experience and applied learning to develop foundational and technical skills in hopes of expanding a person’s education.
Work-based learning combines experiences in the workplace with applied education to develop technical skills that expand workers’ education, career and employment opportunities.
“When I announced my Strong Start, Strong Finish education initiative, I made clear my desire to give Alabamians the best opportunities possible to obtain the skills necessary to be competitive in the workforce,” Governor Ivey said. “I am thankful to the National Governors Association for choosing Alabama to work collaboratively with other states to develop concrete plans to develop our workforce.”
Alabama was chosen along with Idaho, Illinois, Nevada, North Carolina and Rhode Island. Each of the six states will “share best practices; develop plans to identify and scale high-quality programs; and develop policies to support and sustain work-based learning initiatives. Specifically, a focus will be placed on creating opportunities for youth and young adults, ages 16 -29, to get hands-on experiences in STEM industries, such as advanced manufacturing, health care, information technology and energy.”
“As our automotive, aerospace and technology sectors continue to expand, it is critical that Alabama begins preparing our people now for the work that surely is to come to our state,” Ivey continued. “Workforce development is a key factor in attracting new businesses and a critical component for encouraging existing firms to expand. Developing quality workers is so important. I am ever so grateful to those who helped secure this grant for Alabama; their work is going to help put other Alabamians to work.”
The NGA academy is funded by the Siemens Foundation, and Alabama was selected as one of ix states out of 16 applicant states.
Moore’s Campaign Blasts Jones for Apologizing for Alabama
In a press release today, the campaign for U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore blistered his opponent, Democrat Doug Jones, who reportedly told AL.com yesterday, “I’m tired of Alabama being an embarrassment around the country.”
Moore’s Campaign Chairman Bill Armistead responded this afternoon.
“Alabama needs a senator in Washington who is proud of this state, someone who will be a strong ambassador for Alabama. We don’t need an Obama-like senator who goes on an apology tour for Alabama like President Obama did for America. Doug Jones’ comments are reminiscent of the condescending remarks made by Barack Obama about people who bitterly cling to their guns and religion. “Yet it makes sense in a way: Doug Jones is a left-wing extremist who told MSNBC he doesn’t support any restrictions on abortion. He clearly has little in common with the values of most Alabamians – so his disdain for our state is as sincere as his beliefs are extreme.”
“A lifelong Alabamian, Roy Moore served this state and our country with distinction as an Army officer in Vietnam,” Armistead said. “Roy Moore will be a proud ambassador in Washington for our values and our people, should the people of this great state elect him senator on December 12th.”
Gerald Dial Announces Candidacy for Alabama’s Ag Commissioner
Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville)
State Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville) announced today that he plans to seek the Republican nomination for Commissioner of the Department of Agriculture and Industries for the state of Alabama. His campaign is focused on “creating jobs in the state – whether it be agriculture, professional services, or anything in between. Current Commissioner John McMillan is term-limited.”
A retired general in the National Guard, Dial’s press release said he’s a “get-it-done conservative who said he is ready to serve the people of Alabama.”
“I have a reputation of rocking the boat, stepping on the status quo,” Dial said. “We need someone to carry on Commissioner McMillan’s legacy, who will stand up for Alabama farmers and continue to bring more jobs to our great state.”
Agriculture, forestry, and related industries have an annual economic impact of more than $70 billion and account for 580,000 jobs in the state of Alabama. As a third-generation Alabamian, Dial knows the importance of agriculture. He wants to continue to grow agriculture and industry in the state by putting Alabama jobs first. This includes promoting Alabama’s agricultural exports with Cuba and South America, developing a statewide irrigation program, and creating an agricultural cabinet that would share best practices and feedback from farmers.
As a third-generation Alabamian, Dial believes the agriculture industry is vital to Alabama’s economy, and he says he wants it to grow by putting Alabama jobs first. His plan to do so includes promoting Alabama’s agricultural exports with Cuba and South America, developing a statewide irrigation program, and creating an agricultural cabinet that would share best practices and feedback from farmers.
“I want to grow all of Alabama by creating jobs and better opportunities for the people of our state,” Dial said. ”We have to increase agricultural exports, protect our farmland and food sources, and work with our agricultural research universities to ensure the future of farming in Alabama.”
Sessions Announces First-Ever Indictments Of Chinese Opiate Manufacturers
In a press release from the Justice Department, federal grand juries in the Southern District of Mississippi and the District of North Dakota have returned indictments against two Chinese nationals and their North American-based traffickers and distributors. The indictments are for separate conspiracies to distribute large quantities of fentanyl and other opiate substances in the United States.
The Chinese nationals are the first manufacturers and distributors of fentanyl and other opiate substances to be designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs). CPOT designations are those who have “command and control” elements of the most prolific international drug trafficking and money laundering organizations.
As the media advisory noted, “On Sept. 7, Xiaobing Yan, 40, of China, was indicted in the Southern District of Mississippi on two counts of conspiracy to manufacture and distribute multiple controlled substances, including fentanyl and fentanyl analogues, and seven counts of manufacturing and distributing the drugs in specific instances. Yan, a distributor of a multitude of illegal drugs, used different names and company identities over a period of at least six years and operated websites selling acetyl fentanyl and other deadly fentanyl analogues directly to U.S. customers in multiple cities across the country. Yan also operated at least two chemical plants in China that were capable of producing ton quantities of fentanyl and fentanyl analogues. Yan monitored legislation and law enforcement activities in the United States and China, modifying the chemical structure of the fentanyl analogues he produced to evade prosecution in the United States. Over the course of the investigation, federal agents identified more than 100 distributors of synthetic opioids involved with Yan’s manufacturing and distribution networks. Federal investigations of the distributors are ongoing in 10 judicial districts, and investigators have traced illegal proceeds of the distribution network. In addition, law enforcement agents intercepted packages mailed from Yan’s Internet pharmaceutical companies, seizing multiple kilograms of suspected acetyl fentanyl, potentially enough for thousands of lethal doses.”
The news release went on to talk about other indictments in North Dakota and New Jersey.
One of Sessions’ top lieutenants, Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein, said:
“Zhang and Yan are the first Chinese nationals designated as Consolidated Priority Organization Targets (CPOTs). CPOTs are among the most significant drug trafficking threats in the world. The defendants allegedly shipped massive quantities of deadly fentanyl and other synthetic opioids to communities throughout the United States, mostly purchased on the Internet and sent through the mail. The chemicals allegedly killed and injured people in several states, and surely caused misery to many thousands of people. Under the leadership of President Trump and Attorney General Sessions, we are taking back our communities by pursuing suppliers of deadly drugs wherever they are located.”
If convicted, Yan faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison, a $1 million fine, and three years of supervised release.
Reynolds Announces Run for Alabama State House District 21
Former Huntsville Police Chief Rex Reynolds has declared his candidacy to fill the seat for Alabama House District 21 following the tragic loss of Representative Jim Patterson. Governor Ivey has set a Special Election for January 9, 2018, to fill this vacant House seat.
Reynolds retired from the City of Huntsville in 2013 following 34 years of public service. During his tenure at the city, in addition to serving as Police Chief, Reynolds also had stints as Public Safety Director and City Administrator. In 2015, he became the President of Sharp Communication, and he owns a cattle farm in Hazel Green, Alabama. Rex holds a Master’s Degree from AUM in Justice and Public Safety Administration and the 58-year old Huntsville native grew up in District 21. He’s lived in Northeast Huntsville, where the local baseball park is named after his Father, Royce Reynolds. Royce died of Lou Gehrig’s Disease (ALS) in 1980. Rex is a member of Jackson Way Baptist Church, where the former “Ms. Helen” served the church daycare for over 20 years.
Rex is married to the former Mary Fennell and the couple has two sons, Matt and Brett. Matt is married to the former Rachel Weaver, and they have two sons, Kipton and Kaden. Rex enjoys being a grandfather, a farmer, and running a small business, but feels the need carry on Rep. Patterson’s legacy in the Alabama Legislature. On his decision to run, Reynolds said:
“Our District is unique, covering farms and neighborhoods to the north, though a thriving downtown district, and into Southeast Huntsville. I feel I have the unique skill set to serve all of District 21, given my childhood home place, my schools, my service to the city, running a small business, and farming.”
Rex also believes his years of community service have exposed him to many of the needs of the district. Since retirement, Rex has continued his role on the boards of Boys and Girls Club, Crime Stoppers, Partnership for a Drug-Free Community, and the Madison County Alternative Sentencing Board. In 2014, he received the Legislative appointment to the Madison County Judicial Commission, and this year he was appointed as a representative to the Alabama Retired State Employees Association.
Rex looks forward to engaging in the conversation about how to best position our state for continued growth, recruiting jobs, and workforce development. As his campaign’s press release noted, “With growth comes a continued focus on education, jobs, roads, and infrastructure, and social services to serve those most vulnerable in our communities. Quality of life is also important to Rex; it starts with having a safe community, and creating a positive environment of work, live and play.”
Alabama Senate Republicans Applaud Federal Court Decision Upholding Redistricting Plan
MONTGOMERY, AL – Legal challenges to Alabama’s legislative districts reached a milestone yesterday when the federal three-judge court presiding over the case unanimously dismissed all remaining objections to the districts. The new districts were first drawn in 2014 and were revised earlier this year in response to guidance from the United States Supreme Court. In 2018 the state will use the new districts to elect members of the 2018-2022 Legislature.
“We went through an exhaustive process to ensure that the new districts were drawn fairly, and I am glad the courts agreed that the legislative districts map for 2018 is clearly constitutional,” said Senator Gerald Dial (R-Lineville), chairman of the Joint Legislative Committee on Reapportionment. “More counties are made whole in the new maps and we adhered to a strict one-percent population variance between districts.”
In the 2017 session earlier this spring, the Republican-led Legislature made slight adjustments to the districts originally drawn in 2014, under guidance from the U.S. Supreme Court. All of the majority-black districts in both the State Senate and House of Representatives were redrawn, which by necessity required changing the lines of many adjacent and nearby districts.
“It has been an interesting and educational process, but one that I’m glad to have finished. Our ultimate goal was to draw a good map and to honor the wishes of the court,” remarked Senator Jim McClendon (R-Springville), a member of the Joint Committee on Reapportionment. “I believe we did that and that we have guaranteed that the voters in Alabama will be accurately represented in the state legislature.”
“The U.S. Constitution gives state legislatures the authority to draw electoral districts and we have been faithful stewards of this responsibility,” McClendon concluded.
Primaries for the 2018 election cycle will be held on June 5, 2018.
Donald Trump Takes Healthcare Reform into His Own Hands
In light of a handful of Republican U.S. Senators repeatedly siding with Democrats to block President Trump’s efforts to repeal and replace ObamaCare, he is using the power of the pen to start the process on his own.
“The time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across state lines, which will create a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring costs way down and provide far better care.”
The media advisory said the President is “signing an Executive Order to reform the United States healthcare system to take the first steps to expand choices and alternatives to Obamacare plans and increase competition to bring down costs for consumers.”
At the crack of dawn today, the President Tweeted “The Democrats ObamaCare is imploding. Massive subsidy payments to their pet insurance companies have stopped. Dems should call me to fix!” Next, he Tweeted: “ObamaCare is a broken mess. Piece by piece we will now begin the process of giving America the great HealthCare it deserves!”
The White House press release yesterday said that the President is “taking action to increase the health care choices for millions of Americans, potentially allowing some employers to join together across State lines to offer coverage.”
“The status quo is not delivering quality healthcare options for the American people, who are facing higher premiums and fewer options,” Trump stated.
A Fox News article this morning said the Justice Department has notified a federal appeals court that a payment due Monday “will not occur.” Confirming this, acting HHS Secretary Eric Hargan and Medicare administrator Seema Verma said, “We will discontinue these payments immediately.”
However, The Wall Street Journal reported Trump telling one legislator lawmaker that the payments may continue if a bipartisan deal is reached to reform health care.
The President says he still seeks that legislative outcome. In the meantime, however, he says his order will give help people by giving them more health care choices at lower prices.
Sessions Gives Last-Chance Ultimatum: Sanctuary Cities Will Not Be Tolerated
Alabama’s Jeff Sessions and his U.S. Justice Department have responded to seven municipalities for potentially violating federal law. Specifically, Sessions says that their “sanctuary city” policies—those that defy the federal law to give sanctuary to illegal aliens—will no longer be tolerated.
The jurisdictions under DOJ’s scrutiny are:
Cook County, Illinois
New Orleans, Louisiana
New York, New York
In a statement earlier today, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said:
“Jurisdictions that adopt so-called ‘sanctuary policies’ also adopt the view that the protection of criminal aliens is more important than the protection of law-abiding citizens and of the rule of law…I urge all jurisdictions found to be out of compliance in this preliminary review to reconsider their policies that undermine the safety of their residents. We urge jurisdictions to not only comply with Section 1373 but to establish sensible and effective partnerships to properly process criminal aliens.”
Andy Whitt Announces Candidacy for Alabama House District 6
CAMPAIGN HQ PRESS RELEASE:
Andy Whitt has announced that he will seek the open vacancy in the Alabama House of Representatives, District 6 in the June 5, 2018, Republican Primary. Whitt is seeking the seat because Representative Phil Williams is not running for re-election.
Andy’s grassroots run deep in the district. He and his family have lived in the community all of their lives, and Andy makes the 7th generation to call this area home. He is married to his wife Jennifer for 20 years, and she is the current Assistant Principal at Sparkman Middle School. They have two children, Grant and Emma Drew, both students of Sparkman High. His son Grant is currently serving as the SGA/Class president for Sparkman High School. The family attends church at Mt. Zion Baptist Church.
Andy has over twenty years in the finance and banking industry. He is the Senior Vice President/Madison County Executive for First National Bank where he oversees the bank’s presence and growth into the North Alabama Market. “It has been a fun and rewarding experience being a part of the community banking industry. For me, it’s not a job; it’s about making new friends and developing new relationships to better serve the community.
After graduating high school from Sparkman High, he attended Calhoun College, then Samford University’s CBAA program, and the Graduate School of Banking at LSU. He is also a recent graduate of the Huntsville/Madison County Leadership Program- “Focus 35”.
“I am running for the House of Representatives because I want to put my finance and business experience to work for the people of this district and our state,” said Whitt. “It’s time we do more with less, cut the wasteful spending and put hard-working families first. Just like I run our community bank, I will make sure that our state is held accountable and there is a check and balance system in place. I will work hard to make sure we receive our fair share of support for our roads and schools. Moving our economy in the right direction is imperative, and I will work hard with our state and local leaders to bring more jobs and industries to North Alabama. As we all know this last year was a tough time for our state. I believe now more than ever it’s time for conservative leadership, moral values, and integrity. I believe that my life experiences have prepared me for this opportunity,” concluded Whitt.
As a former volunteer fireman for over ten years and a community banker, he feels that it is very important to give back and invest in our communities.“The reason why I decided to run for this position is because I wanted to serve my community and make sure that we have a voice at the table in Montgomery. I am proud of the community service that I have done over the years, and now I want to do even more in public service by representing the good people of our district.”
Beginning at an early age, Andy volunteered his time for many worthwhile causes, including Elkwood Village (Special Needs Home), Athens Rotary Club Board Member, the Ardmore and Athens Chamber of Commerce. He is currently serving on the board of The School Foundation, is a PAC member for the Madison County Board of Education, Athens State University Foundation Board, member of the Huntsville Rotary Club and a “Paul Harris Fellow” Rotarian, member of the Committee of #100 and the Huntsville/Madison County Builders Association.
Alabama Woman Arrested For Hit-And-Run Of Man in Wheelchair
According to a report from WAFF TV in Florence, a woman has been arrested a woman in connection to fatal hit-and-run Friday night of a man in a wheelchair.
57-year-old Kevin Doherty of Florence was in his motorized wheelchair when he was struck by on Cloyd Boulevard by an SUV that fled the scene. Mr. Doherty was flown to Huntsville Hospital where he later died.
Police say Mr.Doherty was confined to his wheelchair well-known to the community, as that was his sole mode of transportation. With no leads on the vehicle, police asked the public for help.
Christina Marie Carroll, 26, of Florence turned herself into the Lauderdale County Courthouse this morning, reporting her involvement in the fatal incident. She was charged with felony leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death, and her bond was set at $2,500.
Ivey Declares Sunday Dale Earnhardt Jr. Day in Alabama
Photo by Sarah Stierch
Governor Kay Ivey has declared this coming Sunday, Oct. 15th ‘Dale Earnhardt Jr. Day’ in the state of Alabama.
Ivey, who will serve as Grand Marshal for the Alabama 500 this Sunday “made the announcement in celebration of six-time Talladega winner Earnhardt Jr. and his legacy at the world’s greatest “Super” Superspeedway. This Sunday – Dale Earnhardt Jr. Day – will be an emotional one for Earnhardt Jr., who will make his final start at the track he calls a second home,” according to a news release from Talladega.
“Nowhere else in the world are there more Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans than in the state of Alabama,” said Ivey, the 54th Governor of Alabama, who will give the command “Drivers, Start Your Engines” to get the Alabama 500 underway. “He has always made it clear of his love for Talladega Superspeedway and the millions of fans that lay claim to him as their favorite NASCAR driver. He has been an impressive, positive role model for so many and we are proud to honor him this weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, but also across the entire state.”
The press release recounted the fact that Dale Jr. won his first Talladega Superspeedway MENCS race all the way back in Oct. 2001. This victory was the first in a seven-race stretch that is unprecedented in the track. Between the fall of 2001 and fall of 2004, Earnhardt Jr. won five out of seven races, including a record four straight. The other two races ended in runner-up finishes. His most recent triumph came in the 2015 GEICO 500.
“We are thrilled that Governor Ivey has proclaimed Sunday, Oct. 15 as ‘Dale Earnhardt Jr. Day’ in the State of Alabama,” said Talladega Superspeedway Chairman Grant Lynch. “Dale Jr. has meant so much to Talladega Superspeedway. He’s one of us, and has left a mark on our state for many years to come.”
A victory in the Alabama 500 would move Dale Jr. into sole place on the all-time Talladega MENCS wins list, trailing only his father – Dale Earnhardt Sr. – who had 10 TSS MENCS triumphs.
Tickets for this weekend’s event can be found on Talladega’s website, action-packed NASCAR playoff race weekend, or by calling the track’s main ticket office at 855-518-RACE (7223).
According to the release,
Talladega’s fall event weekend kicks off this Friday, Oct. 13 with a full slate of on-track activity, including practice sessions for the Alabama 500 and fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) event. Saturday’sfred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola, where the field of eligible championship contenders will be trimmed from eight to six at the checkered flag, is set for a 12 Noon (CDT) start. Sunday’sAlabama 500 is another stop on Earnhardt Jr.’s #Appreci88ion tour and is the “Wildcard” second race in the Round of 12 of the MENCS playoffs.
Great Southern Wood Preserving has issued a press release stating that Charles D. McCrary, former president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board of Alabama Power Company, has been elected to the board of directors of Great Southern Wood Holdings, Inc.
“Charles has had an outstanding record of accomplishment throughout his career and will bring a high level of knowledge and experience to our board,” said Jimmy Rane, founder, president and CEO of Great Southern Wood Holdings, Inc. “Charles is well-respected both as a corporate leader and a community leader, and his unique experience and insight will be extremely valuable as our company moves toward its half-century mark.”
McCrary received a B.S. degree from Auburn University and serves on the Auburn University Board of Trustees. The Charles D. McCrary Institute for Critical Infrastructure Protection and Cyber Systems, named in his honor and housed at Auburn, focuses on interdisciplinary research and advanced technologies to improve the security and operations of our nation’s infrastructure while valuing natural resources and conservation.
McCrary also earned a J.D. from Birmingham School of Law. He is a member of the Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame and has been named to the Alabama Academy of Honor.
McCrary has been engaged in civic organizations across Alabama. He has served as chairman of the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and on the boards of Regions Financial Corporation, Mercedes-Benz US International, the Protective Life Corporation, the University of Alabama Health Services Foundation and Southern Research Institute. He’s also served on the boards of the Children First Foundation, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Alabama Archives and History Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the Alabama Historical Radio Society.
Great Southern Wood Holdings, Inc., is the parent company of Great Southern Wood Preserving, Incorporated, the nation’s leading producer of pressure treated pine lumber for residential, farm, commercial and industrial uses. The company is headquartered in Abbeville, Alabama. It and its subsidiaries have plants located in Mobile, Alabama; Muscle Shoals, Alabama; Brookhaven, Mississippi; Glenwood, Arkansas; Columbus, Texas; Buckner, Missouri; Conyers, Georgia; Jesup, Georgia; Mansura, Louisiana; Bushnell, Florida; Rocky Mount, VA; Hagerstown, MD; and Fombell, PA.
BUSTED: Family Scamming Alabama Churches Caught in Most Unlikely Way
An Alabama pastor and his wife had a most unusual encounter on a recent trip to Virginia.
In the words of Brend Sims, the pastor’s wife, “We’d just returned from a wonderful trip celebrating the marriage of my great nephew and his beautiful bride when we experienced a ‘what were the odds’ moment.”
Shortly before Brenda and her husband made their trip, she explained how a young family came by their church saying they were originally from Ukraine, and are now residents of California. The couple told the Alabama church staff that they had experienced transmission trouble on their way back to California and had used all of their money to have their van repaired. Seeking financial assistance, they asked for just enough money to complete the final four days of their journey.
Trying to exercise prudent wisdom, the Alabama pastor asked for the man’s driver’s license and California employer. The man’s name is Bogdan Dumitru of Rancho Cordova, CA—a suburb of Sacramento. A call was then placed to Dumitru’s ostensible employer to verify his story. When it all checked out, the decision was made to give the couple just enough assistance to get home, and they were on their way.
Not long afterward, the Sims were off to their trip through Virginia for the wedding. On their way home they randomly stopped in the small town of Emporia, Virginia.
As Brenda recounted the story, “We couldn’t believe our eyes when we found that same family and their van with California plates. They were standing on a corner with their handmade sign begging for assistance to get ‘home’. When Dwayne confronted them, the man claimed to have never seen him and to have never been in Alabama. Strangely enough, no one will answer at the phone number originally used to verify his employment. As we drove away, the man said he would pray for us. I’m not quite sure how to feel about that. Choose wisely, friends. There are quite a few folks who will say whatever it takes to get what they want from you.
In a classic story of “your sins will find you out,” the Sims snapped a picture of the couple. Should you stumble across them somewhere, it might behoove you to hang on to your hard earned money, although there’s no doubt they money they persuaded Pastor Sims to give them is now between them and God.
Breaking: Madison County Mourns the Sudden Loss of Rep. Jim Patterson
It is with heavy hearts that we report the sad news that Alabama state Rep. Jim Patterson passed away today, apparently from a sudden heart attack.
In the last legislative session, Rep. Patterson, a Republican serving House District 21 in Madison County, sponsored the widely reported “autism bill,” which required insurance companies to provide health benefits for the treatment of children with autism. Standing stalwart in the face of fierce opposition, Rep. Patterson never waivered on the measure, which ultimately passed the House with an unprecedented unanimous vote, and later passed the Senate by a vote of 33-1.
Elected to the House of Representatives in 2010, Rep. Patterson was symbolic of that class that has become known for its reform-minded efforts that include education reform, tax reform, pension reform, and ethics reform. Patterson fought for conservative solutions to problems surrounding all those issues, and his presence will be greatly missed in the Alabama House, where he honorably served until his passing today.
Rep. Patterson graduated from Hazel Green High School and Jacksonville State University, and proudly served in the United States Army on active duty from 1972 to 1976, and in the Army Reserves for six more years as a company commander of D-926th Engineer Battalion.
His career spanned 29 years as a pharmaceutical representative of Bristol Meyers Squibb before he retired in 2008. Before his election to the Alabama House, Representative Patterson served on the Madison County School Board from 1988 until 2000 and was elected president of that body three times.
Representative Patterson was a deacon at Flint River Baptist Church in Meridianville.
He is survived by his wife Susan Carter Patterson, and their three children and we will update this story as details emerge.
U.S. Attorney Indicts Two Lawyers and One Coal Executive For Bribing Alabama Lawmaker Oliver Robinson
U.S. Attorney Jay Town
Expounding upon our related story from last night, at a press conference today, U.S. Attorney Jay Town announced that two attorneys from the law firm of Balch & Bingham, along with one executive from the Drummond Company have been indicted on charges related to the case of former Alabama House member, Oliver Robinson of Birmingham.
The Balch & Bingham attorneys are Joel Gilbert and Steven McKinney, both partners in the firm. The Drummond Company executive is David Roberson, vice president of government and regulatory affairs.
The U.S. Attorney’s news release said the trio “conspired to provide former state Rep. Oliver L. Robinson Jr. with a valuable and confidential consulting contract in exchange for his taking official action favorable to Balch & Bingham and its client, Drummond, regarding an environmental cleanup site in north Birmingham.”
“It matters not on which side of the bribe one falls in public corruption. Those who pay and those who receive will be prosecuted to the fullest,” Town said. “The work done by this trial team and investigators with the FBI and IRS has been as diligent as it has been exceptional.”
FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp Jr. added, “Public corruption tears at the fabric of democracy and undermines the public’s trust in government. Those who choose to engage in corrupt practices can expect the FBI and our partners will be working to bring you to justice.”
As we reported last night, at the time of Oliver Robinson’s plea deal in June, the U.S. Attorney’s press release said an area of North Birmingham that includes Harriman Park, Fairmont, and Collegeville—and that was later expanded to include Tarrant and Inglenook—was found to have high levels of pollution. As a result, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated this area as a Superfund Site referred to as “35th Avenue Superfund Site.” In 2013, the EPA told five companies that they could be responsible for this pollution, which could cost millions of dollars to remediate
Gilbert, 45, McKinney, 62, and Roberson, 66, all of Birmingham, employed a strategy between 2014 and 2016 “focused on protecting ABC Coke and Drummond Company from the tremendous potential costs associated with being held responsible for pollution within the affected areas,” according to the indictment. They sought to accomplish that goal by working to prevent placement of the 35th Avenue Site on the National Priorities List or its expansion to Tarrant and Inglenook, according to the indictment.
As we reported last night, Mr. Gilbert’s lawyer, Jack Sharman, issued a statement proclaiming his client’s innocence:
“Joel Gilbert is innocent of these charges. He did not bribe anyone. This is a case that never should have been brought Joel represented a client in a legal dispute with the EPA, a powerful and, in this case, over-reaching federal agency. Everything he did while representing that client was lawful and ethical. He is a longtime partner at a leading law firm. A lawyer with a reputation for honesty and integrity, he did what is routine for good counselors to do for corporate and individual clients every day – he engaged a consultant through a written contract to perform real and lawful services.”
Balch & Bingham also issued a statement today, which read:
“Today we learned of the federal grand jury action regarding Joel Gilbert and Steve McKinney. While we note that Mr. Gilbert has denied the charges and vowed to vigorously defend himself, and expect Mr. McKinney to do the same, the charges allege actions that, if proven to be true, are contrary to the ethical values that guide our firm’s attorneys and staff. We take these issues very seriously. We are continuing to cooperate fully with government authorities because, in part, we believe strongly that our firm is not implicated more broadly in the alleged conduct. Both Mr. Gilbert and Mr. McKinney are on an indefinite leave of absence. We will continue to ensure that all of the firm attorneys and staff, across our footprint, fully understand and are adhering to the highest standards of legal and ethical compliance.”
A statement from the Drummond Company said:
When confronted with an environmental issue in Jefferson County, Alabama, Drummond retained one of the state’s most respected environmental law firms. The law firm engaged the Oliver Robinson Foundation to perform community outreach in connection with the matter, and Drummond understood this process was lawful and proper. Two of the law firm’s lawyers involved in the matter, and Drummond’s government affairs officer, have now been charged with federal offenses, apparently based on testimony of Representative Robinson. All three men deny the charges, and must be presumed innocent.
Brett Bloomston, Mr. Roberson’s attorney, also issued a statement proclaiming his client’s innocence:
David Roberson is innocent of the charges returned against him, at the prosecution’s request, by a grand jury that heard only one side of the evidence. David has lived his entire life in Alabama and has earned a stellar reputation for his honesty, integrity, and hard work. David’s tenure with his current employer, Drummond Company, Inc., is no exception. David looks forward to his day in court and expects to be acquitted of all charges by a jury of his peers in a trial where he will have the right to confront the prosecution’s evidence.