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Daily News Digest – February 21, 2020

Good morning and Happy Friday!
It appears to have stopped raining, but water is still everywhere.
“So fair and foul a day I have not seen.”
Here’s your Daily News for February 21.



1. Landfill bill passes

  • The Alabama House of Representatives on Thursday approved legislation that clarifies landfills’ ability to use materials other than dirt to cover new garbage each day. Previously approved “alternative cover” materials have included shredded vehicle components from scrapped cars, contaminated soil and coal ash.
  • The Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) said Thursday that it no longer allows the use of coal ash as cover and while a Walker County landfill still has a permit to use it, it soon will not.
  • Sponsor Rep. Alan Baker, R-Brewton, said House Bill 140 is needed to codify what ADEM has allowed for about three decades.
  • “It would be up to ADEM to decide in permits what covers are allowed,” Baker said on the House floor.
  • Federal Environmental Protection Agency regulations say landfill operators must cover disposed solid waste with six inches of earthen material at the end of each operating day for safety and health reasons.
  • House Bill 140 now allows for alternative coverings besides just compacted earth on the landfills.
  • It was approved by the House 102-0 on Thursday and now moves to the Senate.
  • Read more from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.


2. Port dreams becoming reality

  • Alabama State Port Authority Director and CEO James K. “Jimmy” Lyons wanted to do a few things before he decided to retire. He wanted to deepen the channel, build a freezer facility and start work on an automotive terminal.
  • Now, as he prepares for his retirement at the end of the year, he can look back on his work and know all three projects were accomplished, and that he helped leave the state in a better position to expand industry.
  • Last year, MTC Logistics broke ground on a $58 million, 12-million-cubic-foot refrigerated container facility at the Alabama State Port Authority. The project will attract exporters of poultry and seafood who need the blast freezing capabilities and also allow imported goods to be refrigerated. Alabama’s port had recently lost business to New Orleans and Savannah for such shipping.
  • Beginning in 2021, the port will open a new automotive terminal that will allow for the exporting and importing of vehicles.
  • And earlier this month, Sen. Richard Shelby announced that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has allocated $274.3 million for the Port of Mobile.
  • Read more from ADN’s Will Whatley HERE.


3. School board change on the ballot

  • It’s not just the hotly-contested primary races that will be on the ballot when Alabama votes on March 3.
  • We’ll be voting on a constitutional amendment that would shift the way the state governs education.
  • Amendment One on your Republican and Democratic primary ballots would change the state Board of Education to the Alabama Commission on Elementary and Secondary Education.
  • Instead of being elected like board members are now, commissioners would be appointed by the governor and confirmed by the State Senate.
  • The measure passed overwhelmingly in the Legislature last year after several years of frustration with the state school board. Gov. Kay Ivey, Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh and others have pointed to the school board’s internal squabbling as a contributing factor to Alabama’s slide to near dead last in the latest education rankings.
  • Still, the vote is not a sure thing. People generally don’t like to cede their ability to vote on things, even if most Alabamians couldn’t name their state school board member.
  • It’s worth studying up on before the vote, and’s Trish Crain has a couple of stories that are helpful in that regard.
  • Read her story answering several questions about the amendment and what it would do HERE.
  • And read her data-driven dive into what other states do with school governance and how changing our system could impact test scores HERE.


4. Ed Castile: the Workforce Superhighway

  • New this morning is an op-ed from Ed Castille, Alabama’s deputy secretary of commerce and the longtime director of AIDT.
  • His job isn’t an easy one. When industries locate in Alabama – like the massive Mazda-Toyota project in Huntsville – it’s Castile’s responsibility to see that the workers are trained. And his team has a big role to play in meeting Gov. Kay Ivey’s lofty goal of adding 500,000 credentialed workers to Alabama’s workforce by 2025.
  • Castile writes that Alabama’s workforce is like a superhighway, complete with on ramps and the occasional hazard. Navigating it correctly can make all the difference.
  • Here’s an excerpt:
“Remember when career resource programs were siloed, loaded with government acronyms and frankly, not user friendly? In those days, to the unexperienced eye, all workforce roads led to nowhere. Even harder to understand were the state and federal programs which were designed to help, and yet always seemed to be just out of reach. It was as if one road led to another road, which led to another, and eventually people careened off the highway at malfunction junction.
“To help untangle the malfunction junction, Gov. Kay Ivey announced her Success Plus plan mandating that Alabama’s workforce programs work together to help citizens find credentials of value that will lead to a self-sustaining career. The goal: 500,000 additional credentialed workers in the workforce by 2025. To succeed, workforce agencies are working towards becoming more user friendly, untying the complicated knots and cross-training staff on multiple programs. Therefore, when a citizen enters from any on-ramp on to the workforce highway, they will find that there are no detours or road blocks. Rather, they will find friendly and helpful workforce professionals ready to assist.”
  • Read the full column HERE.



5. News Briefs

Alabama school system cancels classes due to flu, strep

  • CHATOM, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama school district is closing due to an outbreak of flu and strep throat.
  • Washington County Schools, in a Facebook post, said they will be closed Friday as a result of the illnesses, reported.
  • “Absences due to flu and strep are at an all-time high,” the system wrote in the post. “We ask that you use this extra-long holiday break to implement as many precautionary steps as you can. Wash all school clothing and backpacks in hot water. Please avoid anyone (outside the family) with flu symptoms, and do not send your children back to school if they present any signs of the infection.”
  • The system already was scheduled to be closed Feb. 24 and Feb. 25 for the Mardi Gras holiday.
  • According to the Alabama Department of Public Health, significant flu activity has been reported in every part of Alabama except Mobile. The state has had five flu-related deaths so far in 2020, but no pediatric fatalities.

Police: Alabama man dies in motorcycle crash during chase

  • SHEFFIELD, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama man died after losing control of his motorcycle while being chased by authorities Thursday morning.
  • Tab Kennedy Waddell, 32, was driving a 1998 Harley Davidson motorcycle when he crashed into a guardrail on US-43, news outlets reported.
  • Florence Police Deputy Chief Mike Holt said an officer saw Waddell run a red light on his motorcycle and attempted to pull Waddell over. Waddell didn’t stop when the office turned on his lights and sirens, so a chase ensued, Holt said.
  • Waddell later crashed into a guardrail and was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead.
  • “It’s an unfortunate ending to a police chase,” Holt said. “We never want them to end that way.”
  • Holt said it appears the officer followed department policy. The officer’s name wasn’t immediately released. State troopers are investigating the crash. Further details on the crash weren’t immediately released.

New coal mine in Alabama receives $26M in tax abatements

  • TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — A new coal mine is planned in west Alabama after a county approved more than $26 million in tax breaks for the project, officials said.
  • The Tuscaloosa County Industrial Development Authority provided the abatements Wednesday for Warrior Met Coal Inc., which is planning a $500 million project that will create about 350 jobs in the area.
  • A statement from the authority said work is supposed to begin on March 1, with production set to start in early 2025. Average starting salaries for miners will be around $85,000 annually, the authority said.
  • The company will get about $18 million in tax breaks during construction and another $8.5 million in abatements over a decade, according to a breakdown provided by the agency. The company is still expected to pay some $61 million in taxes over 20 years.
  • Located in Brookwood, Warrior uses underground, long-wall mining to extract coal used in steel production in Europe, South America and Asia.

Alabama judge quits amid ethics case over son’s appointment

  • CULLMAN, Ala. (AP) — A long-serving Alabama judge is stepping down after being accused of violating judicial ethics rules by appointing his son to handle cases.
  • Cullman County District Judge Kim Chaney announced his retirement this week after serving almost 30 years, media outlets reported. He was in his fifth term in office.
  • Chaney’s departure came as the Judicial Inquiry Commission released a complaint Tuesday accusing him of violating judicial canons by appointing his son to represent indigent defendants in more than 200 cases from 2015 to 2017 and then presiding in some of the cases.
  • The younger man was paid $105,000 for the appointments, the charges said.
  • Court records show Chaney has waived his right to respond to the charges, and a hearing is set for Monday before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary to resolve the allegations.
  • The Cullman Times reported the Alabama Ethics Commission found probable cause to refer an ethics complaint against Chaney to the state attorney general’s office in 2017. The complaint alleged Chaney violated state ethics law by allegedly appointing his son, Cullman attorney Alex Chaney, to represent indigent people on the court docket.


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – ‘Alternative cover’ landfill bill moves forward; ADEM says coal ash no longer permitted material


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – With channel dredging, automotive terminal expansion, Alabama’s port takes shipping to next level


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Hundreds of dams lack emergency plans in rain-soaked South


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Morgan County tax dispute will have statewide impact


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Ed Castile: The Workforce Superhighway – Stay Clear of Malfunction Junction


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Stacy Column: The Home Stretch


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Medical marijuana bill clears first of four votes


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama lawmakers advance bill aimed at transgender athletes


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Takeaways from the Democratic debate


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest- February 20, 2019


AL.COM  – Montgomery judge not ready to dismiss Nancy Worley lawsuit


AL.COM  – Tommy Tuberville discusses ‘pissed off at Donald Trump’ comment


AL.COM  – Alabama lawmaker wants to ban transgender treatments before age 19


AL.COM  – School system cancels classes due to flu, strep throat


AL.COM  – Alabama’s ‘archaic’ dead body transport law could change


AL.COM  – Lawsuits: Alabama failed to protect foster children from torture, sexual abuse, starvation


AL.COM  – UAH professor honored for work ‘priming’ immune cells


AL.COM  – Can appointed state school board raise Alabama’s national standing in education?


AL.COM  – Alabama loves Trump: Is that keeping the tariffs off Airbus?


AL.COM  – Can Mobile’s soaring Airbus operations continue dodging tariff threats?


AL.COM  – $500 million coal mine announced for Tuscaloosa County


Montgomery Advertiser – Mayor Steven Reed raises awareness of state funds for pre-K programs


Montgomery Advertiser – Floyd Middle principal and teacher placed on administrative leave


Montgomery Advertiser – Police identify hit-and-run victim found on the side of Interstate 85


YellowHammer News – Marshall takes further legal action against states attempting to use legally debatable method to ratify Equal Rights Amendment


YellowHammer News – Montgomery Mayor Steven Reed advocates for expansion of national-best Alabama First Class Pre-K program


YellowHammer News – NASA, Boeing complete first phase of testing on Space Launch System


Dothan Eagle – Faith-based events set for Friday and Saturday


Dothan Eagle – Edwards advising $5K signing bonus to recruit teachers


Dothan Eagle – Dothan man sentenced to 14 years in shooting death of friend, seeks probation


Tuscaloosa News – Man accused of killing former brother-in-law at credit union


Tuscaloosa News – Alabama judge quits amid ethics case over son’s appointment


Tuscaloosa News – Columbus ship replicas sail into Mississippi harbor


Decatur Daily – Long uses State of County address to argue online sales tax issue


Decatur Daily – Neighbors of fairgrounds want fewer disruptions with new warehouse


Decatur Daily – Mayor slams DU over sewer overflows; utility rebukes him as ‘unprofessional’


Times Daily – DFA calls for multi-agency plan


Times Daily – Parole denied for Lauderdale drug offender


Times Daily – John Elkington excited about Inspiration Landing’s future


BIRMINGHAMWATCH – “There Is Always More We Can Learn”: Jefferson County Memorial Project Finds More Lynching Victims, Documents Systematic Racial Oppression


BIRMINGHAMWATCH : – Jeff Sessions Leads the Republican Pack in Contributions This Year Toward Senate Nomination Race


Gadsden Times – Medical marijuana bill clears Alabama Senate committee


Gadsden Times – Parole denied for Etowah woman, DeKalb man


Gadsden Times – Local organizations discuss ways to make upcoming Census count


Anniston Star – Dead-body bill aims to bury old rule, Jacksonville lawmaker says


Anniston Star – Formal search process begins soon for Jax superintendent


Anniston Star – Dirt work underway on JSU business facility replacement as Wallace waits


Troy Messenger – Board of Adjustment approves apartments


Troy Messenger – Allen files bill to criminalize prescription of puberty-blockers, opposite gender hormones to minors


Troy Messenger – Troy Library celebrates black inventors


Andalusia Star News – LBWCC to hold annual day of service projects


Andalusia Star News – 5K to benefit Florala family injured in wreck


Opelika-Auburn News – 2 passengers from ‘floating prison’ cruise ship die of China coronavirus


Opelika-Auburn News – Medical marijuana bill clears Alabama Senate committee


Opelika-Auburn News – Skybar expanding to include a waterfall and fire fountain


Daily Mountain Eagle – How the 2020 Census could impact local schools


Daily Mountain Eagle – WCSO captains recognized for exemplary service


Daily Mountain Eagle – Cordova counselor honored for service to students


Trussville Tribune – Woman killed in head-on collision near Jefferson-Blount county line


Trussville Tribune – Students from Trussville, Springville, Moody on President’s List at Gadsden State


Trussville Tribune – Shelnutt introduces bill prohibiting gender altering drugs, sex change operations for minors


Athens News Courier – Alabama judge quits amid ethics case over son’s appointment


Athens News Courier – Wounded but defiant, Bloomberg promises to keep fighting


Athens News Courier – New threats emerge in outbreak while China voices optimism


Sand Mountain Reporter – Tax filing deadlines extended for taxpayers affected by flooding


Sand Mountain Reporter – Albertville purchases equipment for SMPA | Salary increase for mayor, council next term approved


Sand Mountain Reporter – January 2020 Parole Hearings: Three of 18 local offenders granted parole


WSFA Montgomery – Andalusia Parks and Recreation truck stolen


WSFA Montgomery – Opp police officers pull man from burning mobile home


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery mayor pushing to expand First Class Pre-K


Fox 6 Birmingham – New bill aims to overhaul current Alabama Open Records Law


Fox 6 Birmingham – Student leads severe weather prep at local high school


Fox 6 Birmingham – Retired Cullman County Judge facing ethics complaint


WAFF Huntsville – Decatur city leaders react to mayor’s call for faster fix to sewage overflow


WAFF Huntsville – The life and legacy of William Hooper Councill


WAFF Huntsville – House-approved teacher benefits package could face challenge in Senate


WKRG Mobile – Alabama gun rights group at odds with NRA over proposed bill


WKRG Mobile – The story behind American Idol’s ‘garbage man,’ from our very own Grand Bay


WKRG Mobile – Political consultant discusses congressional poll results


WTVY Dothan – Bats infestation causes Ponce De Leon Elementary to close seven classrooms


WTVY Dothan – UPDATE: Wanted man in Jackson County now in custody


WTVY Dothan – Opp police officers pull man from burning mobile home


WASHINGTON POST  – Senior intelligence official told lawmakers that Russia wants to see Trump reelected


WASHINGTON POST  – Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ program dwindles as more immigrants are flown to Guatemala or are quickly deported


WASHINGTON POST  – Mulvaney says U.S. is ‘desperate’ for more legal immigrants


NEW YORK TIMES  – Hundreds of Dams Lack Emergency Plans in Rain-Soaked South


NEW YORK TIMES  – Trump Renews Attack on Justice System, Again Disregarding Barr’s Pleas

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