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Daily News Digest – December 9, 2019

Presented by

the Alabama Bicentennial Commission

Good monring!
Here’s your Daily News for Monday, December 9.


1. Navy, families recount heroics of fallen sailors


  • Joshua Kaleb Watson, of Enterprise, had just graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy and looked forward to a military career as a pilot. On Saturday, he was being hailed a hero, as his family recounted how the 23-year-old — in his last minutes of life — led first responders to an active shooter at the Pensacola naval base.
  • In a Facebook post, his brother Adam said Watson saved countless lives with his own.
  • “After being shot multiple times he made it outside and told the first response team where the shooter was and those details were invaluable,” Adam Watson wrote on Facebook.
  • “He died a hero,” he wrote.
  • The anguish spread from Pensacola and into communities across the country, as fellow Americans shared in the shock and grief of Friday’s shooting that left four people dead, including the shooter, and eight others injured.
  • The Navy identified the other two victims as Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, of St. Petersburg, Florida, and Airman Apprentice Cameron Scott Walters, 21, of Richmond Hill, Georgia.
  • The shooting is being treated as a terrorist attack.
  • Read more HERE.



2. Bill would shorten county school board members’ terms

  • A state lawmaker wants to reduce county school board members’ elected terms from six to four years.
  • Sen. Sam Givhan, R-Huntsville, said his Senate Bill 9, pre-filed for the 2020 legislative session, came out of discussions and proposed legislation to make county school system superintendents appointed rather than elected.
  • “My thoughts is that if we’re going to end up with appointed superintendents, then the boards that appoint them should be more quickly accountable to the people,” Givhan told Alabama Daily News.
  • “To me, that’s a fair trade.”
  • He pointed out that besides some judgeships, most elected offices in the state have four-year terms.
  • Legislation to end the elections of county superintendents and make them appointed, as city system leaders are, was approved in the Senate during the 2019 session but died in the House. Givhan was a co-sponsor on that bill. That proposal will likely return in the 2020 session.
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.





A message from

the Alabama Bicentennial Commission

Come celebrate Alabama’s Bicentennial on Saturday, December 14th in Downtown Montgomery!
The day will include family activities with exhibitors from all around the state participating in the Bicentennial parade, park dedication and festival, all showcasing Alabama’s communities and honoring her people.
  • 10 a.m. Alabama Bicentennial Parade – Dexter Ave
  • Noon: Alabama Bicentennial Park Dedication – State Capitol Steps
  • 1 p.m. Alabama Bicentennial Festival – Capitol Complex & Downtown Montgomery
  • 4 p.m.Alabama Bicentennial Concert and Finale Presentation – State Capitol Steps
For more information, visit

3. State doesn’t appeal injunction blocking abortion ban

  • Alabama did not appeal the court injunction that blocked the state’s near-total abortion ban from taking effect last month, according to the attorney general’s office. The state has previously acknowledged the ban is likely unenforceable unless the U.S. Supreme Court makes a major shift on abortion rights.
  • The preliminary injunction by U.S. District Judge Myron Thompson temporarily stopped the ban from taking effect Nov. 15 while he hears a lawsuit challenging the ban as unconstitutional. The 2019 law would make performing an abortion a felony in almost all cases.
  • Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall has said the state’s objective is to get the case to the U.S. Supreme Court to try to get justices to reconsider rulings such as Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Roe legalized abortion nationwide. Casey affirmed abortion rights, but said that the states could enact limited restrictions.
  • Full story from Kim Chandler HERE.


4. Austal christens USS Mobile

  • Thousands gathered in Alabama’s Port City Saturday for the christening of Austal USA’s latest Litoral Combat Ship: the USS Mobile.
  • “This is the 20th ship we have christened over the last five years,” said Austal USA President Craig Perciavalle. “We are blessed to have christened so many ships through the years but this one is special. It is a distinct privilege to build a ship named after your namesake city and this has truly been a community effort.
  • “The support we have received from Senator Shelby, Senator Jones, Congressman Byrne, the county, and city has been incredible and has played a major role in our success to date.”
  • Byrne, who represents the Mobile area in the U.S. House of Representatives, was the featured speaker at the event and his wife, Rebecca, had the honor of sponsoring the ship and breaking a bottle of champaign over its hull.
  • Read more and see more photos HERE.


5. Roby honored with service to agriculture award

  • U.S. Rep. Martha Roby was recognized with the Alabama Farmers Federation’s highest honor Sunday – the Service to Agriculture Award – for “being a champion for farmers since she was first elected to Congress in 2010.”
  • Roby, who is not seeking reelection to a sixth term in the U.S. House, played a role in writing two farm bills as a member of the House Agriculture Committee, and also saw farm programs funded as a member of the House Appropriations Committee.
  • Federation President Jimmy Parnell said Roby’s “grit and determination ensured farmers weren’t forgotten by other leaders in Washington and earned her the respect of agricultural leaders at home and in Congress.”
  • Roby said she was honored by the award, but considered the work on behalf agriculture part part of her job.
  • “Since agriculture and forestry are the largest employers in the district and in our state, I take the role as the farmers’ advocate very seriously. I have prioritized spending time with farmers over the years. Whether it was standing in a peanut field or meeting with farmers after a disaster, what they have to say is important to me.”
  • Read more HERE.



Going bowling

  • Neither Auburn of Alabama started the season aspiring to play in non-playoff Florida bowls, but that’s where they are heading.
  • After being shut out of the New Years 6 games, Alabama got the SEC’s first pick in the Citrus Bowl versus Michigan in Orlando. Likewise, Auburn will play Minnesota in the Tampa Bay Outback Bowl. Both games are New Years Day.
  • Interestingly, Auburn and Alabama finished dead even at No. 9 in the AP Top 25, but the College Football Playoff rankings weren’t even close to that. The CFP Committee ranked Auburn 12th and Alabama 13th, both dropping a spot as Oregon shot seven spots up the rankings.
  • Still, with all the talk of playing and beating ranked teams, No. 11 Utah lost each of its two games against ranked opponents.
  • Go figure.
  • Also, a correction of my own mistake from yesterday: the national championship game will be played in New Orleans, not Atlanta.
  • Did you know that each time LSU has played for the national championship, it has been in New Orleans? They were winners in 1958, 2003, and 2007, but lost to Alabama in 2011. All in their own backyard.



News Briefs

State starting Saturday service at 5 driver license sites

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency says it is opening five additional driver license offices for Saturday service beginning this week.
  • A statement from the agency says offices in Dothan, Jacksonville, Montgomery, Sheffield and Tuscaloosa will begin opening from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturdays.
  • Drivers will be able to take driving and road-knowledge tests, renew existing licenses, and transfer out-of-state licenses to Alabama. Residents can also obtain the new STAR IDs that will be required for many people.
  • The agency’s offices in Birmingham, Huntsville, Mobile and Opelika already are open on Saturdays.

Court: State can revoke teacher’s license despite acquittal

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — Alabama’s education department won a round Friday in its attempt to get rid of a teacher accused of making sexual advances on a student.
  • The Alabama Court of Civil Appeals overturned a lower court decision that blocked the state’s attempt to revoke the teaching license of Edward Clinton Davis in Montgomery.
  • Davis was acquitted on criminal charges linked to alleged sexual advances on a student, but the state tried to fire him for misconduct in 2016, the ruling said. A court blocked the action, ruling that the state’s firing process violated Davis’ rights against being tried for the same offense twice.
  • The appeals judges disagreed, ruling that the dismissal process is an administrative procedure that’s separate from action in criminal court. They also said the state school superintendent appeared to have followed rules by reading the entire record of Davis’ dismissal proceedings.
  • The decision sent the dispute over Davis’ teaching credentials back to circuit court.

City could put the brakes on student housing in Auburn

  • AUBURN, Ala. (AP) — The mayor of Auburn is proposing an ordinance that would put the brakes on any new student housing developments.
  • The Opelika-Auburn News reports that Mayor Ron Anders discussed the plan at a recent city council meeting.
  • A student housing task force has heard complaints from residents and businesses over a rising number of student developments.
  • The mayor said the number of beds in the city designed specifically for students is too high.
  • The mayor is proposing a 90-day moratorium on new developments, citing the need to reevaluate traffic and safety issues, among other things.
  • “We need to do something because I’m afraid we’ve outgrown our roads and streets and I’m also a little worried we may have outgrown our police division,” City Councilman Tommy Dawson said.
  • Councilman Brett Smith wondered if 90 days would give city staff members enough time to consider the issue.
  • “I just don’t want to put a Band-Aid on a shotgun wound,” Smith said.
  • City Manager Jim Buston told the council members that 90 days would give the staff enough time to find a more permanent solution.
  • “Staff has been working on a variety of options for some time now,” Buston said. “We have internally been discussing many of the things that the mayor read..”
  • Council members agreed to ask the staff to draft an ordinance that would be introduced at the Dec. 17 council meeting.

New wave of suits linked to BP oil spill hitting courts

  • MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — A new wave of lawsuits against BP is hitting the federal courts nearly a decade after the Gulf oil spill.
  • The new litigation is the result of a court ruling that blocks thousands of people from a medical settlement negotiated after the 2010 environmental disaster. It threatens to clog court dockets for years, and it means plaintiffs like Sherry Carney might have to wait a long time for their day in court.
  • “It was a fine line between life and death; I can tell you that,” Carney told WALA-TV, reflecting on how the oil spill changed her life.
  • Carney was a Dauphin Island city councilwoman at the time. She said she had planned to make her house on the island’s fragile west end her “forever home.” But she said that months of breathing in toxic fumes took a toll on her health.
  • In 2012, she said she spent 34 days in the hospital, part of it the intensive care unit. She said the ordeal included four different stints on a ventilator. At times, she added, she was worried she would not make it.
  • Even after recovering, she said deterioration of her lungs has killed her long-distance running hobby.
  • Read more from Brendan Kirby HERE.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Navy, families recount heroics of fallen sailors in shooting
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Official: Base shooter watched shooting videos before attack
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill would shorten county school board members’ terms
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – State doesn’t appeal injunction blocking abortion ban
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Austal christens future USS Mobile
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Roby honored with service to agriculture award
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – No. 13 Alabama, No. 14 Michigan play in the Citrus Bowl
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ninth-ranked Auburn and Minnesota to meet in Outback Bowl
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New wave of suits linked to BP oil spill hitting courts
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Slain Alabama officer’s father also died in the line of duty
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Army installation in Alabama expected to have 50,000 workers
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Auburn, Alabama tied in final AP Top 25 rankings
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – House passes bill to restore key parts of Voting Rights Act
AL.COM – Future USS Mobile christened amid fanfare in namesake city
AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: It’s over, Nancy. Let the Alabama Democratic Party go.
AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald: How to end Alabama’s fight with science.
AL.COM – Columnist John Archibald: How a chicken changed a town
AL.COM – Contributor Rachel Blackmon Bryars: Would school board amendment enshrine ‘identity politics’ in Alabama’s constitution?
Montgomery Advertiser – Man clings to life after Montgomery stabbing
Montgomery Advertiser – Arkansas State, Florida International slated for Camellia Bowl
Montgomery Advertiser – Man hospitalized after Montgomery shooting
YellowHammer News – Alabama Farmers Federation honors Martha Roby with its highest honor
YellowHammer News – VIDEO: Byrne talks impeachment, a real compromise on gambling might be possible, Buttigieg enters Alabama and more on Guerrilla Politics
YellowHammer News – Alabama-built USS Mobile christened in its namesake city — ‘Best that America has to offer’
Dothan Eagle – Answer Man: Weren’t two grocery stores close to each other on West Main in the 1960s?
Dothan Eagle – School board members to hear Ashford teachers’ cases Monday
Dothan Eagle – FBI presumes base shooting was act of terrorism
Tuscaloosa News – Man hospitalized after shooting at apartment complex
Tuscaloosa News – Suspect’s mother speaks out after Alabama officer slain
Tuscaloosa News – Deal banning surprise medical bills also ups tobacco purchase age to 21
Decatur Daily – Millions of gallons of sewage overflowed DU pipes in last year
Decatur Daily – Swim team grandmother: Replace rink with indoor pool at Point Mallard
Decatur Daily – US Postal Service to get busier this week
Times Daily – Northwest-Shoals Christmas Concert is Thursday
Times Daily – City receives governor’s award for cleanup day
Times Daily – UNA’s Project 208 for equitable funding steps into high gear
Gadsden Times – Caray: Trash Pandas, stadium development ‘bigger than just baseball’
Gadsden Times – Saudi gunman tweeted against US before naval base shooting
Gadsden Times – Woman’s Club to host children’s Christmas event
Anniston Star – Photos: 2019 Weaver Christmas Parade
Anniston Star – Phillip Tutor: Anniston has potential, he says. But there’s a problem.
Anniston Star – People in recovery need support over the holidays
Troy Messenger – Lawsuit filed regarding 2017 Wilkerson arrest
Troy Messenger – Phillips rings bell to assist ‘our neighbors’
Troy Messenger – Sudden closing of store shocks, saddens customers
Andalusia Star News – District 4 candidates discuss issues
Andalusia Star News – Parole hearing set for Opp woman
Andalusia Star News – Magical proposal: Local man asks girlfriend to marry him at Christmas parade
Opelika-Auburn News – Top AP photos of 2019 range from the epic to the intimate. See the full collection.
Opelika-Auburn News – Christmas parade returns to Opelika
Opelika-Auburn News – Sadie’s Hope Ministries extends Hope Baskets drive
Daily Mountain Eagle – Smith recaps first year accomplishments
Daily Mountain Eagle – Motorcyclists converge on Eldridge for Toy Run
Daily Mountain Eagle – Lupton SRO contributes to classroom teachings
Trussville Tribune – Deadly weekend in Birmingham continues with 2 more people shot to death Sunday evening
Trussville Tribune – Man killed in Center Point shooting
Trussville Tribune – Sunday morning shooting in Birmingham leaves 1 dead
Athens News Courier – Slain Alabama officer’s father also died in the line of duty
Athens News Courier – Madison recycling program receives ADEM grant
Athens News Courier – Huntsville police identify slain officer; suspect charged with capital murder
Sand Mountain Reporter – Boaz PD receives $50,000 grant for radios
Sand Mountain Reporter – Guntersville native to christen new aircraft carrier
Sand Mountain Reporter – Ainsworth talks small business | Alabama Lt. Governor hosts listening session in Guntersville
WSFA Montgomery – Victim suffers life-threatening injury in Montgomery stabbing
WSFA Montgomery – Man injured in Montgomery shooting Sunday afternoon
WSFA Montgomery – Auburn mayor looks to halt student housing developments
Fox 6 Birmingham – Motorcycle club makes holidays brighter for Cupcake McKinney’s brother
Fox 6 Birmingham – Birmingham Police investigating 2 men found shot to death in Roebuck
Fox 6 Birmingham – B’ham PD investigating homicide in West Precinct
WAFF Huntsville – Funeral location changes for fallen officers funeral; moved to Mayfair Church of Christ
WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville Police Department chaplain speaks about loss of officer
WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville police name fallen officer, capital murder suspect
WKRG Mobile – Alabama’s abortion ban remains blocked by federal judge
WKRG Mobile – Irvington body shop catches fire
WKRG Mobile – Bodies of 3 sailors killed at NAS Pensacola arrive at Dover Air Force Base
WTVY Dothan – Parents of man killed in Pensacola terror attack talk about their pain and pride
WTVY Dothan – Wiregrass begins Toys For Tots Workshops
WTVY Dothan – 5-year-old shot and killed in B’ham during family dispute
WASHINGTON POST – Inside Giuliani’s dual roles: Power-broker-for-hire and shadow foreign policy adviser
WASHINGTON POST – Administrative assistant jobs helped propel many women into the middle class. Now they’re disappearing
NEW YORK TIMES – Barr Dives Into the Culture Wars, and Social Conservatives Rejoice
NEW YORK TIMES – World’s Oceans Are Losing Oxygen Rapidly, Study Finds

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