Friday, February 5, 2016

2-5-16 News

Public housing
Hundreds of Alabamians currently living in public housing may have to find a new place to live. The Department of Housing and Urban Development Office of the Inspector General is now proposing reducing the number of over income families living in public housing.  The almost 30 page report says in the U.S. there are currently 25,226 families receiving public housing assistance whose income exceeds the eligibility requirements. Right now the Department of Housing and Urban Development only requires families to meet certain income limits when they are admitted to the public housing program. If a family's income increases while living there, they can stay. The report calls these families "over income" families.  The report says there are currently 811 over income families in Alabama that are living in public housing. Alabama ranks as the fourth highest in the nation when it comes to the number of over income families living in public housing.  The report says reducing the number of over income families in public housing will put over 100 million dollars to "better use" by providing that money to eligible low-income families who need housing. It recommends that housing authorities be directed to establish policies to reduce the number of over income families in public housing.

Florida fugitive arrested in Cherokee County
Cherokee County authorities arrested a Florida man yesterday wanted in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area.  Sheriff Jeff Shaver said 35 year old  Rikki L. Speakman, of Dover, Fla. was arrested in Sand Rock Wednesday.  Shaver said that Investigators received information about the Florida fugitive and were able to locate him. Speakman is wanted by Hillsborough County, Fla. authorities on a probation violation involving grand theft. He remains in the Cherokee County Detention Center awaiting extradition to Florida.

Anniston cocaine arrests
Two Anniston residents are being held in the Calhoun County Jail awaiting a preliminary hearing after they were charged with trafficking cocaine.
47 year old Claressa Williams,  and  23 year old Michael Mathews,  were arrested Jan. 26 on charges of trafficking about 35 grams of cocaine.

Rainbow city fatal
Alabama State Troopers have not released the name of a Rainbow City woman killed in a midday collision at the intersection of Blount County Roads 39 and 47 Thursday.  Blount County Coroner John Mark Vaughn confirmed that the 26-year-old woman was pronounced dead Thursday at the scene of the collision between her Ford Fusion and a transfer truck.  Vaughn said there were no other injuries in the crash, which happened about 11:45 a.m. Thursday morning.

Criminal mischief arrest
An Attalla man has been arrested in connection to criminal mischief, according to Etowah County Sheriff Todd Entrekin.  42 year old James Timothy Kitchens, has been charged with one misdemeanor count of third-degree criminal mischief, public intoxication; and a felony charge of unlawful breaking and entering of a vehicle.
Deputies responded to a suspicious person at a residence on Sand Valley Road. The homeowner called 911 after finding Kitchens, who he did not know, inside a vehicle at the property. Deputies found Kitchens tossing and turning inside the vehicle. Kitchens told the deputies he was trying to get comfortable so he could sleep.
Kitchens is in the Etowah County Detention Center on $3,100 bond.

Rainbow city drug arrest
A Rainbow City man has been arrested on drug possession charges.  36 year old Donovan Remeir Rutledge, has been charged with unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful possession of salvia.  Etowah County Drug Enforcement Unit agents went to an address on Chestnut Street in Gadsden Thursday in reference to a complaint of drug activity. As agents drove up, Rutledge took off running behind the residence. Agents pursued him on foot and saw Rutledge toss a gun to the ground as he was running.  Rutledge was apprehended a short distance later, without further incident. Further investigation resulted in the seizure of heroin and salvia from his pockets. A loaded 9mm handgun was recovered from the yard.  Rutledge was arrested and transported to the Etowah County Detention Center. Further charges may be forthcoming related to the firearm.

Boaz fatal
A single-vehicle crash early Wednesday morning  claimed the life of a 28 year old Boaz man.  Preston Cole Lovell, was killed when the 2004 GMC Sierra he was driving left DeKalb County Road 1 one mile south of Aroney, struck an embankment and overturned.  Lovell, who was not using a seat belt, was ejected from the vehicle.  He was pronounced dead at the scene.  Alabama State Troopers continue to investigate the crash.

Voter registration requirements

Residents of Kansas, Alabama and Georgia are no longer able to register to vote using a federal form without providing proof of U.S. citizenship after a federal elections official added the requirement without public notice or review by the agency's commissioners. The move by Brian Newby, the new executive director of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, has sparked a backlash from one of its commissioners, who is asking the changes be withdrawn. The American Civil Liberties Union says it's a brazen move that will create additional barriers. Newby defended his decision as a routine administrative action taken at the request of the states. He took over the agency's top job last November and came from Kansas, where the secretary of state has pushed for such laws for years.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

2-4-16 News

Dekalb drug arrest
A pair of burglary suspects in DeKalb County were arrested Tuesday thanks to a concerned citizen's call to the sheriff's office.  According to a release, the DeKalb County Sheriff's Office responded to a report of a possible burglary at a residence on County Road 179 in Crossville's Painter community. Upon arriving, they discovered a break-in had occurred. A witness at the scene told deputies that they saw a man and woman carrying property of the residence and taking it to a home next door.Authorities later executed a search warrant at the neighboring home and found man and woman inside, as well as the property allegedly stolen from next door and two one-post meth labs. The suspects -- who were later identified as 33-year-old Benjamin Jay McClain and 31-year-old Jami Nicole Spain -- were arrested and each charged with burglary, unlawful possession of a controlled substance and unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance. They both also face a charge of possession of drug paraphernalia.

Leesburg man charged with Georgia robberies
A Leesburg man is in jail in Georgia along with another man in connection with a string of armed robberies in four counties.  The Chattooga County (Ga.) Sheriff's Office announced that 26 year old Jake Lee Skuse,  of Leesburg, has been charged with armed robbery, methamphetamine possession and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

Also facing charges is 42 year old James Tyrone Carmichael,  of Rome, Ga., on two counts of armed robbery, along with meth possession and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. More charges are likely.

Piedmont gas tax
The Piedmont City Council decided for a second time Tuesday that there will be no gas tax increase in the city..
Councilman Frank Cobb has for months asked other council members to consider imposing a two-cent tax increase on fuel pumped at Piedmont stations to help pay for road paving in the city.

Talladega shootings
The Talladega County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a shooting that wounded two people in the Grassmere community Monday night. The incident took place around 10:30 p.m. on Sunrise Circle in Alpine, but deputies were never called to the scene.Both of the injured parties were adult males. One was transported by personal vehicle to the emergency room of Citizens Baptist Medical Center in Talladega, and was then transferred to University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital. This person would have been airlifted, but the LifeSaver helicopter was not available. The other injured party was also put into a private vehicle and driven over Logan Martin Dam, where he was met by an ambulance that took him to UAB.  Investigators were notified by hospital staff that the shooting had taken place. Investigators were able to locate what they believe to be the crime scene hours after the shooting occurred. A handful of witnesses have been interviewed, but most of them do not seem to have first-hand knowledge of what actually happened.
Anyone with any information about this incident should contact the Talladega County Sheriff’s Office at 256-761-2141.

Lindsey hearing
Attorneys for Stephon Lindsay argued Tuesday that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Florida’s capital sentencing process is unconstitutional means Alabama’s capital statute also is unconstitutional, so the death penalty should be off the table in the Gadsden man’s upcoming trial.  Lindsay is charged in the 2013 murder of his daughter, 20-month-old Maliyah Lindsay.  The girl’s body was found March 12, 2013, in a wooded area at the corner of Plainview Street and Block Avenue. She had been reported missing a day earlier by her mother, Tasmine Thomas. Court documents indicate the child was killed with a hatchet or sword-like blade. At the time of her slaying, family members said it was a ritualistic killing.  Lindsay’s trial is scheduled to begin Feb. 22. He has pleaded not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, and has undergone a second mental evaluation. A portion of the doctor’s opinion from that evaluation has been submitted to the court under seal; attorneys are awaiting the rest of the opinion.  In the ruling in Hurst vs. Florida, “the Court held that the Sixth Amendment requires a jury, not a judge, to find each element necessary to impose the death sentence.”

Piedmont man detained
A Piedmont man was detained Saturday  after allegedly shoplifting at Wal-Mart in East Gadsden. But when police arrived, he provided false information about who he was.  There was an outstanding unrelated drug charge against the man whose name he gave, so he ended up going to jail anyway and was booked under the incorrect name on the wrong charge.  According to a Gadsden police report, the man whose name was falsely given alerted the Etowah County Detention Center of the discrepancy. An Etowah County Drug Task Force agent notified Gadsden police, but by that time the 33-year-old Piedmont man had been released. He faces a potential felony charge for giving false information.

Childersburg tower
The Childersburg City Council responded Tuesday night to Norfolk Southern Railroad’s proposal to build a 170-foot tower downtown.
The council, in an effort to preserve the historical character of Childersburg and the downtown area, agreed to send a letter to the company requesting it consider another location The proposed location for the tower is at the intersection of Alabama Highway 76 and Bates Addition.
Norfolk is proposing to install a self-supporting lattice railroad communication tower, according to a letter sent to the Childersburg Historic Preservation Commission. It will be placed within the right-of-way of Norfolk Southern.
The letter said the proposed tower will serve as a base station for the federally mandated Positive Train Control (PTC) system. The PTC system is mandated by the U.S. Congress to enhance train safety and is being implemented by all Class 1 railways in the United States.
Mayor James Payne and Council members Ralph Rich and Billy Lester said they hoped the railway would look for another site, but none expressed any confidence the site will change.

St clair amendment
A constitutional amendment that would allow the St. Clair County Commission to amend court costs by local legislation will be on the March 1 election ballot.
County attorney James Hill III said the proceeds could be used for expenses within the county.
Hill said“About two-thirds of all the counties in the state have that ability, and it is important that we do as well, and is an opportunity for st. clair county to have the same benefits and options that other counties have right now.”

Hill said there is a piece of legislation that has been passed that would allow a $30 court cost to be collected from defendants who use the county jails.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

2-3-16 News

School Delays for Wednesday
Severe weather in Alabama has forced several school systems to delay classes Wednesday.
Alabama Institute Deaf and Blind : Buses will be on 2 hour delay Wednesday
Attalla City Schools : Delayed 2 hours
Calhoun County Schools : Delayed 2 hours Wednesday
Cherokee County Schools : Delayed 2 hours; Wednesday
Cleburne County Schools : Delayed 2 hours; Wednesday
Etowah county schools Delayed 2 hours Wednesday
Gadsden City Schools : Delayed 2 hours Wednesday
Jacksonville Christian Academy : Delayed 2 hours Wednesday
Jacksonville City Schools : Delayed 2 hours Wednesday
Oxford City Schools : Delayed 2 hours Wednesday
Pell City Schools : Delayed 2 hours Wednesday
Piedmont City Schools : Delayed 2 hours Wednesday
Randolph County Schools : Delayed 2 hours; Wednesday morning
St Clair County Schools : Delayed 2 hours
Sylacauga City Schools : 2 Hour Delay Wednesday
Talladega City Schools : Delayed 2 hours Wednesday
Talladega County Schools : Delayed 2 hours Wednesday

Piedmont fatal
Alabama State Troopers report that a Piedmont man's injuries from a weekend vehicle crash have proven fatal.  The two-vehicle wreck occurred Saturday on Alabama 68 inside the city limits of Sand Rock. Troopers said a 2007 Chevrolet struck a 2006 Honda. James Lawrence Calvert, of Piedmont, was a passenger in the Honda. He was transported from the scene to UAB Hospital with severe injuries. Troopers said he succumbed to those injuries at the hospital on Tuesday. He was 43 years old.  Both of the drivers were treated at local hospitals.

Gadsden divorce capital of Alabama recently identified the city in each state with the highest percentage of divorced people. The data comes from the Census Bureau's American Community Survey's five-year estimates for the period ending in 2014 and, just a note, only cities with a population of at least 25,000 were included.  According to the data, Alabama's divorce capital is Gadsden. The city has 36,621 residents with 16.1 percent of them being divorced at least once. That's high enough to make the city 21st in the country for the highest number of divorced residents.

Gadsden plane crash report released
Spin, I'm trying to get out of here." These were the last words air traffic controllers heard from a plane which took off from Gadsden and crashed in a Colorado reservoir in 2014, killing five people on board. The National Transportation and Safety Board has issued a preliminary narrative account of the 2014 crash, and is expected to issue a final report within a few weeks. The narrative is the result of a nearly two-year investigation into the crash, which took place on March 22, 2014 in a reservoir in Ridgway, Colo. The crash killed five people –pilot 48 year old  Jimmy Hill, 40 year old  Katrina Barksdale, 11 year old  Kobe Barksdale, 8 year old Xander Barksdale, and 14 year old  Seth McDuffie. A preliminary report was filed in April 2014, but the final report, which usually determines the cause of an accident, can take more than a year to compile. The NTSB took possession of the plane wreckage shortly after it was recovered from the reservoir on March 27. According to the narrative, the plane took off from Gadsden's Northeast Alabama Regional Airport about 7:39 a.m. that day and arrived at Bartlesville Municipal Airport in Bartlesville, Okla. about 10 a.m. The report says Hill had the plane's fuel topped off there while he and the plane's passengers grabbed lunch at the airport. Hill also received a weather briefing before the plane took off again 11:11 a.m. Everything appeared normal with both plane and pilot. The plane cruised for awhile at 26,000 feet, before lowering to 17,000 and then 16,000 before its scheduled approach to Montrose Regional Airport. The narrative notes that Hill had accumulated a total flight time of about 908 hours in single-engine airplanes, 839 hours as a pilot-in-command, and had no apparent health issues. An autopsy of Hill only revealed the presence of an over-the-counter dietary supplement in his blood.

Talladega murder cases
Two Talladega County capital murder cases from 2013 moved closer to trial this week. 20 year old Demarcus James Samuels,  and 21 year old  Justin Dawayne Hamilton, are both accused of killing Timothy McGlothlin of Shelby County during a robbery in March of that year.  16 year old Dawson Scott Miller, is accused of killing 75 year old  Earnest Jenkins, in October, also during a robbery.  According to Talladega County District Attorney Steve Giddens, Samuels and Hamilton had asked to be tried as youthful offenders. Both were refused.  Miller applied for juvenile status, but the process for him is somewhat more complicated. A person older than 16 accused of a violent crime is automatically certified as an adult for trial purposes, but, because Miller was younger than 16, it was necessary to have a hearing in district court, where the results of an extensive investigation by the probation department is considered.  District Judge Robert Rumsey certified Miller as an adult in July 2014, but that ruling was appealed.  Giddens said Monday that Miller’s appeals for juvenile status had been exhausted and Rumsey’s ruling stood. Miller has been arraigned on a capital murder charge and, presumably, has asked King to be tried as a youthful offender.

Parolee charged in Talladega robbery
A Kellyton man out of prison on parole has been charged with armed robbery in south Talladega County.
36 year old Ricky Allen Crawford,  was charged with first-degree robbery Saturday and was being held Monday in the Talladega County Jail on a $500,000 bond set by District Judge Jeb Fannin, according to Sheriff Jimmy Kilgore.
Crawford is accused of waiting for the Shop N Fill Number 2 on U.S. 280 to open at 5:10 a.m. Saturday while armed with a knife. He held the knife to the cashier’s throat and demanded money. When the cashier complied, Crawford allegedly fled with less than $200.

Stolen truck recovered
A truck hauling a trailer load of lumber fled Monday evening when a Gadsden police officer tried to stop it after discovering that it had been reported stolen in Lowndes County. The pursuing officer called for assistance about 5:45 p.m. as he was chasing the truck. The truck’s driver lost the trailer and the load of wood it was carrying in the 500 block of North 32nd Street, but continued his run in the stolen truck. An officer saw a truck fitting the description of the stolen vehicle  behind a house on Tuscaloosa Avenue. After he helped get the trailer towed, he went back to the residence to investigate the truck. The owner of the residence told him his wife said a man pulled up in the yard from a back alley, acting like he was in a hurry and asking the wife for a ride. She refused and left in her car. The resident said he was acquainted with the suspect but knew him only by his first name — Jonathan. He said the man also was known as “Big Tat” because he was covered in tattoos, even on his eyelids. The wife said another neighbor gave the man a ride away from the area. The stolen truck is the property of Lindsey Roofing, a company based in Columbus, Miss.

Etowah commission buys warehouse
The Etowah County Commission on Tuesday voted to buy a large warehouse facility to be used for storage.
The building is 54,367 square feet with a small office space and a large warehouse. It is on 5.28 acres of land on Thomas Drive, off Alabama Highway 77 near the Etowah County Drug Enforcement Unit facility.
Its space will be split between the sheriff’s office and the commission on a 75 percent to 25 percent basis, respectively.

Chief Deputy Michael Barton said the building has sufficient space for all the sheriff office’s equipment and room for growth as needed, such as the addition of a helipad for the office’s helicopter. The county’s voting machines also will be kept there.

Monday, February 1, 2016

2-2-16 news

Jenkins resigns
A captain with the Rainbow City Police Department has resigned after being charged with sodomy according to the Etowah County Sheriff's Office.  45 year old David Chase Jenkins, of Rainbow City, is still detained in the Etowah County Detention Center without bond. Investigators say the crime involved an adult female and Jenkins was not on-duty at the time.  The police department had placed Jenkins on leave after learning of the charges. Jenkins submitted a letter of resignation Sunday, that was immediately accepted by the police department, according to Rainbow City Police Chief Greg Carroll. Jenkins was the Captain of Investigations.  Carroll also said that the county is handling the investigation and that the decision to issue the arrest warrant was made by the county and the District Attorney.  According to court documents, two motions have been filed by Jenkins' attorney to have bond issued and also to have the charges dismissed.

Oneonta man arrested
36 year old  Donny Brian Putman, of Oneonta, has been arrested by Etowah County Sheriffs Deputies in connection with a recent theft.  Putman is charged with one count of theft of property in the first degree. He allegedly stole a 1969 Dodge Coronet Super Bee after he was supposed to be restoring the vehicle at his shop in Altoona. The owner of the vehicle made several attempts at contacting Putman, but he remained elusive over the course of several months.  The victim made contact with the building’s owner to retrieve his vehicle when Putman was evicted from his shop, but the car was not inside. The vehicle has yet to be located.  Putman was booked into the Etowah County Detention Center and later released on a $5,000 bond.

Henegar woman arrested
Floyd County (Ga.) authorities have arrested an Alabama woman on child sex charges.

Teresa Juanita Lawrence, 38, of Henagar, is being held without bond in the Floyd County Jail in Rome, Ga. on charges of child molestation, aggravated child molestation and felony sodomy.

Published reports in Georgia said that she is accused of encouraging a juvenile to have sex with her while she was a resident of Floyd County on numerous occasions between 2012 and 2014.

Anniston elections
With Annistons municipal elections set for this fall Four of the Anniston City Council’s five members have said they will run for re-election this year, and the fifth hasn’t ruled it out.  Mayor Vaughn Stewart and council members Jay Jenkins, Millie Harris and Seyram Selase said Monday they plan to run for office again. Councilman David Reddick said he’s undecided.  Candidates have between July 5 and July 19 to qualify for council elections. The election is set for Aug. 23.

Doj apartment order
Federal prosecutors and developers of 71 housing properties, including three in Jacksonville, have reached an agreement involving a suit over compliance with U.S. disability laws. The U.S. Department of Justice filed suit in September against Florence-based Gateway Development Corporation. Prosecutors and attorneys for the developers filed a joint motion on Friday for a judge to approve the agreement. According to a release from Gateway, the terms state that the company will pay approximately $5,000 per apartment complex to establish a settlement fund for anyone identified by the Justice Department as affected by the compliance issues.  Three of the 71 complexes are Hickory Run Apartments, Hickory Run II Apartments and Brookstone Village Apartments, all in Jacksonville. All of the local complexes are near one another off Gardner Drive east of Jacksonville’s City Cemetery.

Lincoln pj suit
The City of Lincoln filed a motion  last week seeking to dismiss a lawsuit brought by theTalladega County Commission challenging the city’s enforcement of its police jurisdiction.
The county is suing Lincoln over enforcement of its police jurisdiction, citing county residents’ complaints that Lincoln’s collection of sales tax constitutes taxation without representation, among other complaints.
The motion to dismiss lists reasons Lincoln feels the case is without merit, including that the court doesn’t have jurisdiction over the matter; the county lacks standing to bring the claims; the county’s claims are moot; and that existing case law allows the city to enforce its police jurisdiction, among several other reasons.
Chief U.S. District Judge Karon Bowdre gave the county until Feb. 16 to respond in writing as to why the court should not dismiss the case.

Boaz fatal
A wreck Sunday night claimed the life of a Boaz man, according to a news release from the Alabama State Troopers.

Troopers say that 40 year old Tony Ray Dabbs,  was killed in the wreck about 6:45 p.m. Sunday on Oneonta Cut Off Road, two miles south of Guntersville.

Dabbs was driving a 1995 Chevrolet that left the road and overturned. He wasn’t wearing a seatbelt and was ejected from the vehicle, and was pronounced dead at the scene.

Troopers continue to investigate the wreck.

Severe weather

Meteorologists are urging residents to be alert for severe weather this eveningt as severe thunderstorms are expected to move across the area around 10 o'clock tonite and move out by the early morning hours on Wednesday.  Forecasters say they expect strong thunderstorms and 20-30 mph winds with higher gusts that could reach 60 mph in the area, along with the possibility of tornadoes and small hail. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Talladega Schools hires interim CSFO

Mara Walls
The Talladega City Board of Education voted unanimously to hire an interim chief schools financial officer during a special called meeting Friday morning.
Mara Walls, of Cropwell, worked as the CSFO for the Pell City school board until 2010 and has worked as a consultant for the state Board of Education since then. Interim Superintendent Dr. Frank Costanzo said he had worked with her extensively during the state intervention in the Birmingham City school system.  Board Chairman Jake Montgomery was authorized to negotiate a contract with Walls, which will then be submitted to the full board for final approval. She will start working Thursday.
Costanzo said Friday that former CSFO Mable Gunter would stay on a bit longer to make help make the transition. He also said he wanted to make certain all of the system’s financial information was presented clearly and in a way that would be easy for board members and the general public to understand.

Walls is the fifth CSFO hired by the city school system in just over two years. She will be replacing Bethany Waters in an interim capacity until the board is able to hire a permanent replacement.

Charges against Anniston Councilman Dismissed

Councilman David Reddick
A Calhoun County judge has dismissed a harassment charge against an Anniston city councilman.  Calhoun County District Judge Beth Rogers dismissed the charge against Councilman David Reddick in a decision, filed in District Court late Thursday night, two days after Reddicks attorney filed a motion to dismiss the charge that stemmed from an incident that occurred July 15 at Ford’s Barber Shop on Bynum Leatherwood Road.  The shop’s owner, Charles Ford, signed an arrest warrant in July, alleging Reddick came to his business and demanded he remove a Confederate flag from the front of his business. Ford alleged that Reddick told him his business might face repercussions for not removing the flag.  Reddick had contended he wasn’t threatening Ford, but was trying to explain his view that a then-proposed ordinance regarding public nuisances could allow the city to force him to remove the flag. Reddick opposed the ordinance, which was ultimately approved by the City Council over his objections.  Rogers’ order also bars Reddick from entering Ford’s shop or having any further contact with him. 

Man charged in Cherokee Murder

Ben McCool
A Cherokee County man jailed on charges of domestic violence and child abuse now faces a murder charge in connection with the death of a 38-year-old man whose body was found in the Chattooga River on Friday.  According to the Cherokee County Sheriff's Office, an investigation into the disappearance of 38-year-old Scott Abernathy of Gaylesville began on Thursday after a family member reported him missing. Within a day, authorities suspected that Abernathy had been shot and thrown into the river.  On Friday, a rescue squad located and recovered Abernathy's body from the river. Investigators have since arrested 48-year-old Ben McCool in connection with the death. He's currently being held in jail on charges stemming from an unrelated case.  An investigation remains ongoing.