10 months ago

Body of Alabama’s Kamille ‘Cupcake’ McKinney found; Two being charged

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — Investigators searching through garbage found the body of a 3-year-old girl who was missing more than a week, and authorities are charging two people with murder, police said Tuesday.

Birmingham Police Chief Patrick Smith told a news conference that the remains of Kamille McKinney were located in a trash bin that had been taken to a landfill. Police had been watching garbage deposits from a certain part of the city, he said.

Smith said police were obtaining murder warrants against two people previously identified as persons of interest in the case, 39-year-old Patrick Devone Stallworth and his 29-year-old girlfriend, Derick Irisha Brown.

Lawyers for both have said they are innocent.

The child, known as “Cupcake” to relatives, vanished while outside a birthday party on Oct. 12. Investigators know of no link between the suspects and the girl or her family, Smith said.

“We believe this was something they thought about and acted upon. They saw an opportunity to take a young child, and they did,” said Smith, who did not reveal a potential motive.

Stallworth, arrested after officers located a vehicle seen near the abduction site, previously was charged with child pornography, but authorities said the charge wasn’t related to the missing child.

It wasn’t clear how long the child might have been dead. Mayor Randall Woodfin said the girl’s parents were experiencing “unimaginable” pain.

“This is a tough moment for our city, a tough moment for the family,” he said.

Gov. Kay Ivey, in a statement Tuesday night, offered her condolences to Kamille’s family.

“The heart of our state is broken…,” Ivey said. “Our prayers remain with Kamille’s family and all who have been touched by this nightmare.”

(Associated Press, copyright 2019)

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21 mins ago

Alabama basketball star John Petty returning for senior season

University of Alabama star forward John Petty, Jr. will return for his senior season, the player announced on Monday.

The Huntsville native was a second-team All-SEC honoree this past season, after leading the Southeastern Conference in three-point percentage.

Petty was considering entering the 2020 NBA Draft, however he decided to return for a final season in Tuscaloosa after evaluating his prospects. Another college season could see Petty lock down his chance at being a first-round pick.

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Tide head coach Nate Oats released a statement on Monday afternoon celebrating Petty’s return.

“It’s great to have John back for his senior year,” Oats said. “He is certainly one of the best, if not the best, shooters in the country which is extremely important to us with how we play.”

“He’s made it clear that it’s his goal to become a first round pick in the 2021 NBA Draft and we’re going to work with him to make sure he’s in the best position to reach that goal. Let’s get to work!” the coach concluded.

Follow along with the Bama men’s basketball program here.

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

40 mins ago

State of Alabama, University of Alabama System officials unveil GuideSafe app aiming to keep schools virus-free

Key figures from Alabama’s government and university systems joined to announced the new GuideSafe platform that bills itself as the key for students to safely return to college campuses amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The GuideSafe platform will help the state fulfill its promise to test every single college student before they return to campus, and the platform will provide a space for ongoing health monitoring throughout the semester.

The unveiling took place over videoconference, where State Health Officer Dr. Scott Harris, University of Alabama System Chancellor Finis “Fess” St. John and other key players detailed the importance of GuideSafe to the upcoming semester.

GuideSafe was developed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) in conjunction with the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH) and tech company MotionMobs. It will be provided to any educational institution in the state that wishes to use it.

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Governor Kay Ivey apportioned some of Alabama’s CARES Act funds for the development of GuideSafe and the universal free testing for college students.

St. John on Monday praised Ivey’s “decisive action to provide funding” for the testing initiative and other campus reopening measures.

(Click for higher resolution version that will open in new tab)

GuideSafe will be accessible via app on smartphones and tablets and via web browser on any computer. Students will be invited to join the platform in the coming weeks.

One of the key features of the GuideSafe app is that it will track the location of students via smartphone and then inform them if they have come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus.

“This new app – using Google- and Apple-led technology and created by UAB faculty, staff and MotionMobs for the people of Alabama – is a necessary tool in our effort to return to college campuses safely this fall,” said UAB President Ray Watts.

The app also allows students and faculty to report symptoms as they experience them, and get directed to a nearby testing site if necessary.

“The combination of these tools enables every participating college, university and K-12 school to engage faculty, students and staff regarding on-going monitoring of symptoms, exposure and risks of acquiring COVID-19,” said Sue Feldman, professor and director of graduate programs in health informatics at UAB.

A general factsheet on GuideSafe is available here.

Watch:

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

55 mins ago

Trump fires TVA board chair after outsourcing uproar

President Donald Trump on Monday announced that he was removing the Tennessee Valley Authority’s board chairman, Skip Thompson, an Alabamian.

Thompson, a resident of Decatur, is the president and CEO of Corporate Billing, a subsidiary of Birmingham-based National Bank of Commerce. He previously served as the president and CEO of both First American Bank in Decatur and First Commercial Bank in Huntsville, as well as serving on the board of Decatur Utilities.

Trump appointed Thompson to the TVA board in 2018. He was elected chairman of the board last year.

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The president on Monday cited TVA’s plan to outsource information technology jobs overseas as the reason for firing Thompson and one other board member. Trump warned the other board members that they would be next if the outsourcing continued. The president also called on them to replace the organization’s CEO, who Trump said was making far too much money.

The president added, “Let this serve as a warning to any federally appointed board: If you betray American workers, you will hear two words: ‘You’re fired.’”

The TVA is the electricity provider for much of North Alabama. Self-described as “a corporate agency of the United States,” it is regulated at the federal level and not under the jurisdiction of the Alabama Public Service Commission.

Congressman Mo Brooks (AL-05) applauded Trump’s move on Monday.

“TVA fires AMERICANS & hires cheap foreign labor,” the North Alabama congressman tweeted. “TVA executive salaries EXORBITANT. TVA=NO competition, unlike private sector execs who compete to earn profits to earn pay… WAY TO GO [President Trump]!”

RELATED: Doug Jones: ‘The TVA has lost its way’

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

1 hour ago

The cancellation of in-class schooling should lead to more school choice, not less

The global coronavirus pandemic is wreaking havoc on our way of life, our economy, our politics, and with school about to start for most Americans, it is about to change how that institution works as well.

Reportedly, one-third of Alabama’s school systems will start fully online and two-thirds of schools will open with in-class options.

Each school system has these options at their disposal, and the local systems should do what they feel is best.

Parents, however, are at the mercy of elected officials and school administrators who more often than not will defer to the whims of the all-powerful education associations that still dominate local, state and federal elections.

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The Alabama Education Associaton (AEA) is still around and still a player. In spite of their lack of popular support, Republican and Democratic politicians bow to them.

And why shouldn’t they? These groups are still able to motivate teachers and generate campaign contributions.

Is the AEA as powerful as it used to be? Obviously not. Is it still strong? Yes, very.

The school systems that have completely shelved the beginning of the school year for an online-only option are now leaving some parents in a lurch with young kids at home and no way to teach them and earn an income themselves.

But if you are an educator, you are in luck. The school systems are working to provide teachers with the ability to bring their children to school.

Huntsville City Schools has not made this choice yet, and wouldn’t you know it, but teachers are rather annoyed by this.

(Note: I shared the following posts on Facebook and many of those involved were aghast that their Facebook posts were shared, so I will just quote them)

I have 3 littles and am waiting to hear from the district so I can plan for them. You are right, when teacher mommies and daddies know that their own personal children are cared for, it makes it so much easier to go above and beyond for the children of others.

Could it work that teachers could bring their kids, The kids would be disbursed to the appropriate grade and taught in class. Mom would teach her grade level and when school is over they would go home. Their kids would be the lucky ones.

Have you heard anything about our educators, who are teaching remotely, being able to take their school-age children to their classroom? They only have a few days left to make plans.

These teachers will be allowed to bring their kids to work, and they will get what they want.

Parents? Deal with it.

Your “littles” aren’t “the lucky ones.”

You “mommies and daddies” don’t need the assurance that your “children are cared for” so you can perform.

This is embarrassing but telling. They have the stroke and they call the shots.

And why shouldn’t they? Alabama schools are 51st out of 50, so give them more power. Help kill the school year for everyone and then demand the school systems take on the responsibility and liability — and there is a liability here — so teachers can keep working.

Yes, yes, what about those babies?

The decision-makers are risk-averse, but they are also in a situation where they want to take care of the teachers.

But this is not the only concern at play.

Alabama’s political leaders should demand a special session be called to allow all parents who want their children to have the opportunity to be enrolled in an in-person classroom to have that option.

If the local school district says “no school for nine weeks,” 85% of the monies spent on their child should be given to the parents to make other plans.

This is the same percentage of money parents who take advantage of the Alabama Accountability Act receive, which teachers and their politicians hate, too.

But that’s how this works: perks for them but you just take what they decide.

What kind of assistance can this provide?

Private school? Parenting pod? Hiring childcare?

Make the parents produce receipts to get the money. It is unacceptable that the leadership has left actual parents out in the cold like this.

Something should be done for these parents. Unfortunately, nothing will be done unless your kids are one of the “lucky ones.”

Educators and politicians have left parents and students out on this one, so when this is all said and done, don’t be surprised if the push for vouchers and school choice grows.

Dale Jackson is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News and hosts a talk show from 7-11 AM weekdays on WVNN

2 hours ago

Alabama-built ship recovers astronauts after first crewed SpaceX mission

While SpaceX is just about the only major American aerospace company without a presence in the Yellowhammer State, Sunday’s completion of the historic Demo-2 mission still managed to have an Alabama connection.

Demo-2 was SpaceX’s first-ever crewed mission for NASA and the first crewed orbital launch to depart from the United States since the final flight of the space shuttle program in July 2011.

The mission lifted off on May 30, when a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket powered Endeavour from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. After a one-day trip, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley arrived at the International Space Station.

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On Sunday, the Endeavour Capsule splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico, with the two astronauts strapped inside. This marked the first crewed ocean return since July 1975. The Endeavour’s splashdown was also the first Gulf of Mexico return to Earth in NASA history.

The SpaceX recovery ship GO Navigator met Endeavour and hoisted the capsule aboard shortly after it landed in the water off the coast of Pensacola, FL.

GO Navigator was built by Master Boat Builders, which is located in Coden, AL.

An unincorporated community in southern Mobile County, Coden is located near Bayou La Batre.

Mobile County Commissioner Jerry Carl, who is the Republican nominee in Alabama’s First Congressional District, highlighted Master Boat Builders’ contribution to the mission.

“I am so proud of the fact that Master Boat Builders in Coden, AL is playing a key role in history, with the recovery of the Space X mission today. Go Navigator was built by the Rice Family / Master Boat Builders in 2010,” Carl said in a Sunday Facebook post.

GO Navigator joined SpaceX’s recovery fleet in August 2018. Since then, it has gradually been upgraded to meet advanced mission needs. The vessel is now equipped with a medical treatment facility and helipad for emergency situations.

Its sister ship, GO Searcher, was also built by Master Boat Builders. The vessels typically work in tandem on SpaceX recovery missions.

You can view video footage from GO Navigator’s recovery efforts on Sunday here.

Since the end of NASA’s space shuttle program, Russian-made rockets and spacecraft had ferried astronauts to the International Space Station before Demo-2.

Both SpaceX and Boeing are part of NASA’s push to begin what is essentially a commercial space taxi service to the space station.

“We are entering a new era of human spaceflight,” commented NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

Boeing’s Starliner was designed in Huntsville and is launched into space by an Alabama-built, United Launch Alliance (ULA) rocket. The Starliner program hopes to conduct its first crewed mission to the International Space Station in 2021.

Starliner made history last year, becoming the first-ever American orbital space capsule to land on U.S. soil when it touched down at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico on December 22.

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