Latest Alabama news, sports, business and entertainment:
Cobb: Alabama ahead in drug court goal with 25 new ones planned
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb says the
state has been taking significant steps to help those struggling
with drug addiction get the treatment they need instead of just
locking them up.
Cobb said yesterday that 25 more drug courts are in line to join
16 existing ones and that puts Alabama in a position to lead the
She spoke to more than 100 judges, lawyers and community
corrections officials who will be involved in the expanding program
and says she wants Alabama to be known for fixing people instead of
Drug courts allow nonviolent drug offenders to go through a
lengthy program that involves intense supervision and testing while
they are rehabilitated.
The charges are dropped if they stay drug free for a year.
The goal is to have at least one exemplary court in all 67
counties by 2010.
Some of the new batch of courts will be open by October 1st and
the rest are shooting for January 1st.
US lawmakers' plane under fire in Iraq
WASHINGTON (AP) -- U.S. Senator Richard Shelby and U.S.
Representative Bud Cramer were among four lawmakers on a military
cargo plane that was fired upon in Iraq last night.
The lawmakers said their plane, a C-130, was under fire from
three rocket-propelled grenades over the course of several minutes
as they left Baghdad for Amman, Jordan.
Republican Senators, Mel Martinez, of Florida and James Inhofe,
of Oklahoma, were also on the plane.
Captain Angel Wallace, a spokeswoman for U.S. Central Command,
said she was not aware of the incident, and military public affairs
officials in Baghdad could not be reached immediately.
Lawmakers travel to Iraq regularly to get a closer look at
military and political progress there, usually staying inside
Baghdad's secured Green Zone and traveling under heavy security.
Despite the scare, Shelby, Martinez and Cramer said they
believed the recent increase in troop levels has helped stabilize
parts of the country.
Byrne: Bishop State's declining enrollment can't continue
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) -- Bishop State Community College's enrollment
has plunged to about 2,500 students -- down from about 5,200 three
years ago -- amid a financial scandal that two-year colleges
Chancellor Bradley Byrne hopes to heal with several new
Visiting the Mobile campus yesterday, Byrne says the falling
enrollment "can't continue." He blames it on adverse publicity
about a financial scandal that led to a state and federal criminal
probe that's ongoing.
At a news conference before speaking to faculty and staff, Byrne
outlined some new education initiatives in his "Project Phoenix"
campaign to boost enrollment and confidence in the college.
The college has been placed on probation by its accrediting
agency, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS.
Pond Spring former curator, relative charged in artifacts theft
HILLSBORO, Ala. (AP) -- A former curator for Pond Spring, the
historic home of Gen. Joe Wheeler in Hillsboro, and his great aunt
have been arrested and charged with theft of artifacts.
In a statement yesterday, Attorney General Troy King said Myers
Brown of Old Hickory, Tenn., and Dora Palmer, who lives near
Franklin, Tenn., were taken to the Lawrence County Jail on theft
charges related to a transaction involving a Spanish American War
uniform and medal.
Both were released on bond.
A county grand jury indicted the two on Aug. 14th.
The indictments charge each of them with one count of
first-degree theft of more than $2,500 from the state of Alabama,
and one count of conspiracy to commit first-degree theft.
While working for the Alabama Historical Commission, Brown
allegedly used his position to have $5,000 in state funds sent to
Palmer for the uniform and medal. No other details about the probe
If convicted, the defendants face maximum penalties of up to 20
years in prison and fines of up to $10,000.
Drought remains in place, only slight improvement noted
UNDATED, Ala. (AP) -- The latest U.S. Drought Monitor Survey
released yesterday shows about 1 percent of good news. Experts said
only about 73 percent of the state is covered by an exceptional
drought -- that's compared to 74 percent last week.
The entire eastern edge of the state and most of east central
and north Alabama remain under the worst drought conditions on the
The rest of that exceptional drought, also called the D-4 zone,
covers parts of Tennessee, Georgia and a small portion of western
North Carolina and the tip of South Carolina.
State Climatologist John Christy at the University of
Alabama-Huntsville says extremely dry conditions could persist
until next summer.
All of Alabama remains under some stage of drought.
Woman sickened in E. coli outbreak dies, 1 remains hospitalized
HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) -- A 48-year-old woman who was sickened in
an E. coli outbreak at a Huntsville restaurant earlier this summer
has died and one of the victims remains in a hospital.
State Health Department analyst Chris Sellers said yesterday
staff members are still in the process of contacting the woman's
family and will release more information later.
The woman tested positive for the E. coli bacteria in early July
and had spent weeks on dialysis in Huntsville Hospital before her
Public health officials traced the E. coli outbreak to shredded
lettuce served at Little Rosie's Taqueria between June 27th and
June 30th. Eighteen people who ate at the popular restaurant on
those dates tested positive for the bacteria.
A 19th person who tested positive did not eat at Little Rosie's
and got the bacteria from another source.
69 year old Regina Lassiter of Huntsville is the only victim
still in the hospital. She was scheduled to be transferred to
Huntsville Hospital from a medical facility in Asheville, North
Rockets destroyed at old Ala. Army base
GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) -- The Army Corps of Engineers said yesterday
that two World War II rockets found and destroyed during the
cleanup of an old Army base once used for chemical weapons training
did not contain toxic material.
Marilyn Phipps, a spokeswoman for the agency, said the two
munitions were conventional anti-tank rockets. They were unearthed
and detonated Wednesday during the cleanup of what used to be Camp
Sibert. The camp was the nation's largest chemical weapons training
camp during the 1940s.
Contractors have been using metal detectors since April 2006 to
remove shells at the old military base, which lies southwest of
Gadsden and is now mostly farm land. Phipps said the search has
turned up 22 mortar shells believed to contain chemical agents,
although the exact contents have not been determined.
Camp Sibert was used to train about 5,000 troops from 1942 to
1945 with chemical agents including mustard gas and lewisite.
Yesterday, almost 50,000 people live on or near the property.
Low rivers strain Alabama paper mill operations
MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) -- Low river levels brought on by the
drought are causing problems for Alabama paper mills.
One paper company in Monroe County has been forced to use pumps
on a barge to supply water to the mill. Another in Prattville is
storing wastewater in ponds instead of discharging it into the
Officials at Alabama River Pulp Company near Perdue Hill said
the pumping operation was needed because the river had fallen below
Martha Sims, manager of environmental performance for
International Paper at Prattville, said wastewater was put in
holding ponds due to concerns about river water quality if it was
The difficulties some paper mills are having was one of the
topics discussed Wednesday during a weekly drought update moderated
by the Army Corps of Engineers.