Friday, October 31, 2014

Etowah maintenance worker arrested on theft and helping inmates obtain drugs

Steven Urail Howard

An Etowah County maintenance worker has been arrested on charges he stole county property and helped a jail inmate obtain drugs.

57 year old Steven Urail Howard,  of Boaz, is charged with one count of first-degree theft of property and one count of second-degree promoting prison contraband, both of which are felonies. He is currently being held in the detention center on a $7,500 bond.

Howard allegedly confessed to assisting a county inmate, who was under his supervision, get drugs on two occasions. According to the sheriff's office, the first incident happened around a month ago when an inmate bought Suboxone, a narcotic used in the treatment of opiate addiction, in the parking lot of a local convenience store. The second incident involved the sale of marijuana in the parking lot of an area discount store on Oct. 15, the same day an inmate escaped work detail and fled in a county-owned truck.
Howard, according to the sheriff's office, also admitted to stealing an old control panel worth approximately $3,500. The panel has since been recovered.

Calhoun County has countrys first four legged School Resource Officer

 Deputy QT

Calhoun County's newest school resource officer has four legs.
At news conference in Alexandria on Thursday, QT, a three-year-old black Labrador retriever, was introduced by officials as the area's, and possibly the country's, first-ever canine SRO.  While it's not unusual for police dogs to enter schools as part of searches, QT will be permanently assigned to the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office SRO division.  He is expected to be sworn in and given a badge on Friday, after graduating from the Auburn University canine school at McClellan.  Eric Patterson is a deputy and school resource officer assigned to the elementary and high schools in Alexandria. He is also now the dog's permanent handler and will take him to Calhoun County's other schools as requested or needed.

Patterson said QT is heavily trained in scent tracking and can detect drugs and even firearms.

Judge rules Anniston man competent to stand trial for murder of Wellborn Elementary teacher

Tyrone Thompson

A Calhoun County judge has ruled that an expert is not needed to determine whether an Anniston man is mentally competent to stand trial in connection with the 2011 death of a Wellborn Elementary School teacher.
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.
Circuit Judge Debra Jones deliberated for more than a week before finding that such an expert was not needed to determine Thompson’s competency. Jones at a hearing on Oct. 20 listened to prosecutors and defense attorneys make cases for and against the need for that expert.
In her ruling, Jones states that evidence and testimony at the hearing showed that Thompson does not posses an intellectual disability that would require the court to request an an expert.
Judge Jones wrote that “The mental retardation, or intellectual disability, of the defendant is not an issue in this trial. Tyrone 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 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, prosecutors have said.
Thompson’s trial is to begin Feb. 2.

ADEM investigating demolition of McClellan Buildings

The Alabama Department of Environmental Management, or ADEM is investigating the recent demolition of 23 old buildings at the former fort McClellan by the city of Anniston. It appears that the buildings contained asbestos and the city failed to  provide the required notification.
An Alabama Department of Environmental Management inspector discovered the discrepancy last week after receiving a complaint from a local resident about the site. The city's environmental consultant says notification to the department was unnecessary since a survey showed the type of asbestos in the buildings cannot spread through the air. ADEM officials, however, say notification was still required and they will investigate to ensure the asbestos was properly removed before possibly enacting any penalties.
Back in the spring, at the McClellan Development Authority's request, city workers started demolishing the 23, 1950s-era apartment complexes to make way for potential development.
Officials say a survey completed on the buildings in the 1990s showed there was asbestos in the structures' floor tiles — a type of asbestos that does not crumble and spread through the air when removed and is therefore not hazardous to human health.
However Ron Gore, head of ADEM's air division, said the city violated state regulations by not providing notification, even if the asbestos was deemed safe.
Gore said ADEM will continue to investigate to ensure the asbestos was disposed of properly. If it wasn't and the problem could have been prevented by ADEM being notified, then the city could face a monetary penalty.
Robin Scott, executive director of the authority, said
the demolition work has made way for various development projects, including the recent expansion at International Automotive Components. Scott said some buildings were also recently destroyed to make way for a speculative building that the Calhoun County Economic Development Council will use to lure in industry.

New Gadsden Council set to take office Monday

While the Gadsden City Council and Mayor Sherman Guyton won’t be officially sworn in for their new term until Monday, the new council will hold a work session Sunday evening at City Hall.
The council will meet at 6 p.m. Sunday in the fourth-floor conference room to discuss its rules of procedure and unofficially elect the council president and president pro tem.
The council president sets the council agenda, presides over meetings and appoints the chairman and members of the seven council committees.
The president pro tem presides over meetings when the council president is absent.
The committees are Public Safety, Public Works, Education and Recreation, Intergovernmental Relations, General Administration, Community Development and Finance.
Each council member chairs a committee and there are three committee members.
The council and mayor will be sworn in at monday 10 a.m. at Convention Hall. The Gadsden City High School Concert Choir will perform the national anthem after the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps Color Guard presents the colors. The choir also will perform “This is Why We Sing.”
After the swearing in ceremony, the council will meet at 11:30 in council chambers.
All of the meetings are open to the public.