Thursday, July 2, 2015

Human remains found near historic cemetary

A maintenance man had discovered bones on property near Southern Hills Cemetery in Gadsden Tuesday  morning.  The historic cemetery is just up a hillside from the apartments where the remains were found. It was added to the Alabama Historic Cemeteries Register in 2013. The cemetery was abandoned for many years. For about three years, the Grace Heritage Foundation has been restoring it and trying to find the names of people buried there. The site was used as a cemetery for black residents from 1826 to 1971, and also was used as a paupers’ cemetery.  Officials contacted police and Etowah County Coroner Michael Head, and discovered that some remains were apparently were removed from graves or at least moved from grave sites after becoming exposed.
There were signs of vandalism , A hole has been knocked in one vault and other markers have been pushed over or broken.  Head took possession of the bones discovered Tuesday. He said there’s no question that the bones were old ones and that they came from the cemetery. Looking at the cemetery, he said, it appeared someone, perhaps kids, had been there and disturbed some of the graves.
Through the work of the Grace Heritage Foundation, about 476 graves at Southern Hills Cemetery have been found, some of which are not marked.

Rescue squad funding cut not linked to drowning death

Sen. Phil Williams

An Etowah County Lawmaker said Wednesday that a decision to reallocate funding from Etowah county’s 1-percent sales tax and cut the Etowah County Rescue Squad’s funds altogether was made long before an incident in April that triggered the repossession Tuesday of Homeland Security equipment assigned to the squad.
Sen. Phil Williams, R-Rainbow City, said the decision to cut rescue squad funding from the tax allocation had nothing to do with the drowning death April 25 of Etowah County Rescue Squad member Vicky Ryan. The repossession of the equipment and actions to ban the rescue squad from operating in the county essentially shuts down its operations. Permits for fundraising roadblocks in Rainbow City and Gadsden also have been denied.  Williams sponsored legislation that reallocated funds from the 1-percent sales tax. The Etowah County and Attalla rescue squads — two separate organizations — were the only two agencies cut from allocations altogether. The bill was voted on in May and has been signed into law. The changes in reallocation take effect Oct. 1.
Williams and other legislators asked for a public hearing in January that allowed all the agencies and organizations that receive a portion of the 1-percent sales tax to explain how the money is used. Previously there had been no accountability for the way the money was spent.

Attalla School Board hopes to select new Etowah principal by July 15th

The Attalla Board of Education has posted The principal’s job at Etowah High School with hopes to have the position filled by July 15.  The Attalla Board of Education approved personnel actions in a special meeting Tuesday that included the resignation of Etowah High principal Jeff Colegrove.  The Gadsden City Board of Education voted Tuesday to hire Colegrove as principal at Gadsden City High School.  Colegrove has been principal at Etowah High School since 2013. The school board will receive applications and do interviews from the chosen applicants to narrow the field to three, making recommendations to the board.  The job position must be posted for 14 days. The Attalla Board of Education approved scheduling a special meeting at noon July 15 with hopes to hire a principal that day.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Equipment reposssesed from County Rescue Squad

Equipment assigned by the state's Homeland Security Division to the Etowah County Rescue Squad was repossessed Tuesday following a series of events triggered by the drowning death April 25 of a rescue squad volunteer.  Chief Deputy Michael Barton told the Etowah County Commission the action was taken after several agencies decided to stop using the rescue squad's services.  It comes on the heels of an investigation into the death of 46 year old Vicky Houston Ryan,  a member of the rescue squad who drowned after the boat she was in capsized during a mission on Big Wills Creek off Brooke Avenue.  Volunteers with the rescue squad were among those who responded to the low-head dam at the old steel plant pump station for the recovery of the body of a kayaker who went missing in the water about 11 a.m. April 25.  Barton said that Gadsden Fire Department officials ordered the rescue squad members to stay out of the water and work only from the bank.  The orders were ignored, and two boats were put in the water. Both boats capsized, and nine rescue squad members were thrown into the water. Ryan drowned and three others were treated at a hospital.  Following the incident, the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency Marine Police division, Etowah County Sheriff's Office, Gadsden Police Department, Gadsden Fire Department and the Etowah County District Attorney's office began an investigation into the drowning death.  That same day, Gadsden Fire Chief Stephen Carroll issued a verbal order that the rescue squad not be permitted to respond or operate within the city of Gadsden.

Talladega County homocide investigation

Investigators with the Talladega County Sheriff’s Office are seeking information related to a homicide that occurred late Friday night.
Authorities report that  28-year-old Kenny Walthall, of Childersburg, was killed during an incident on Alabama 76 around 11 p.m.
Walthall was traveling in a vehicle with two unnamed individuals toward Childersburg when another vehicle appeared behind them and its occupants began firing into the vehicle.
“Kenny was shot, and then they ran into a tree and wrecked. “He was the only one who was deceased. The (other two victims) couldn’t give a description of the vehicle or the suspects.”
Alabama State Troopers and emergency personnel arrived on the scene and began working the scene as a wreck.
Anyone with information pertaining to the homicide should contact the sheriff’s office at 256-761-2141.

Etowah principal hired as new principal at Gadsden City High School

Jeff Colegrove

The Gadsden City Board of Education, after an hour in executive session Tuesday evening, approved the hiring of Current Etowah High principal Jeff Colegrove as principal at Gadsden City High School.  Colegrove has been principal at Etowah High School since 2013.  Among other personnel actions, Russell Waites was named principal at Emma Sansom Middle School.  GCHS's previous principal, Keith Blackwell, was moved last month to a central office position as director of school operations.