Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Cherokee County Death investigation



Cherokee County Coroner Broderick Smith says The Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a fatal shooting early Monday morning off County Road 199 near Cedar Bluff.
Smith would not release the name of the person who died in the incident, which occurred about 2:30 a.m. Monday mornin,  near Ladd Campground. No one else was injured.

Judge asked to decide competency of murder suspect


Tyrone Thompson

A Calhoun County judge heard arguments Monday over whether an expert is needed to determine whether an Anniston man is mentally competent to stand trial in connection with the April 2011 death of Wellborn Elementary School teacher Kevin Thompson.
Calhoun County Circuit Judge Debra Jones said she’ll need time to go over the information presented by prosecutors and defense attorneys  before issuing a ruling.
30 year old Tyrone Thompson, was indicted by a Calhoun County grand jury in May 2011 on a capital murder charge in connection with the kidnapping, robbery and killing of Kevin Thompson.
Thompson is the second of three suspects to be tried in connection with the teacher’s death. A judge in September sentenced Nicholas Smith to death after being found guilty for his involvement in the killing.
Prosecutors in Smith’s trial alleged that Tyrone Thompson, Smith and Jovon Gaston, of Jacksonville, kidnapped Kevin Thompson, drove him to several ATMs in Anniston and Jacksonville and robbed him of $400 at gunpoint. Those men also allegedly drove the victim to a secluded portion of U.S. 278 outside of Piedmont where Thompson was stabbed to death and left by the side of the road.

Rainbow City Publix project set to break ground



Rainbow City Mayor Terry John Calhoun said Monday that Site work could begin as early as this week on the Publix development in Rainbow City.
Calhoun said he has been told by the developer of the project at the intersection of U.S. Highway 411 and Alabama Highway 77 that closing had completed and it now owns the property.
Publix has confirmed the company would be building a store on Grand Avenue in Rainbow City.
John Argo is principal developer with MAB Corp., which is handling development services for Inland Real Estate Development Trust of Chicago, which owns the property. He said it would take about a year for the development to be completed and open.
Argo said the contractor on Friday was given the notice to proceed and confirmed work could begin this week.
He said a formal ground breaking will take place in two to three weeks.
The Rainbow City Council has  approved an incentive package totaling $1.65 million for Inland Rainbow City LLC, which took over the proposed development from Paradise Ventures.

Anniston industry plans 13 million dollar expansion



Anniston and Calhoun County economic developers announced Monday that an existing Anniston industry plans to spend $13 million to expand its operations.
Officials declined to reveal the company's name or how many jobs the expansion might create, saying all the details were not yet finalized. However, what was clear from the announcement was that the City Council must consider approving a 10-year sales and use tax abatement for the company to help the expansion move forward.
Eric Basinger, city economic developer, and Don Hopper, executive director of the Calhoun County Economic Development Council, made the announcement during the Anniston council's Monday work session.
The council is set to vote on the tax abatement during its next meeting .
Basinger said the full details about the expansion and the company will be revealed during the next council meeting.
Hopper said the full details on the project, which his organization has been working on for months, were withheld Monday because the company has not fully finalized its plans.

ALDOT postpones Anniston street closures



Alabama transportation officials have postponed plans to close parts of two roads in Anniston  related to construction on the Veterans Memorial Parkway.
Officials said Monday that the planned Oct. 17 closure of sections of Lindale Drive and Sprague Avenue near U.S. 431 was postponed to find a way to shorten the timeframe of the closings. The closings were set to last until the summer of 2015 and would have forced residents living on those roads to take detours.
 Construction crews have already modified culvert work in the impacted area to shorten closure times.
Officials said that eventually,  sections of the two roads will need to be closed so the parkway can be completed.
Officials said that changes in the road closing plans will not impact the completion of the parkway.
ALDOT had previously announced that icy, rainy weather at the beginning of the year had delayed construction and pushed the project's completion date into late 2015.
When the work is done, the project will provide a complete route between U.S. 431 north of downtown across McClellan to Interstate 20’s Exit 188.

JSU to increase tuition



 The Jacksonville State University board of trustees  approved a new $110.7 million budget Monday that includes projected revenue from a yet-to-be approved 5 percent  increase in tuition.
The tuition increase will be considered at the board’s April meeting, . Since 2008, the university has repeatedly increased tuition to balance falling state funding, but last year avoided an increase. The university now charges $283 per credit hour for in-state students, which is about $3,396 for one semester with a 12-hour course load.
JSU President Bill Meehan said that other Alabama institutions are likely to increase rates this year. Trustee Randy Jones said he would like to see the university avoid an increase by enrolling more students and increasing the number of classes students take.
Student Government Association President Brett Johnson said a hike might keep some prospective students from enrolling.
Meehan said the university is about 3 percent below the median tuition cost of the state's 14 public universities. He said the university does not plan to charge a tuition rate that exceeds the median.