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Daily News Digest – January 24, 2020

Presented by AlabamaWorks!


Good morning and Happy Friday!
Some good news to start off: the Missing Child Alert for the 13-year-old girl from Pelham has been cancelled because she was found. Thank goodness.
Here’s your Daily News for January 24.



1. Jobs report: Record unemployment holds steady

  • Alabama’s unemployment rate held steady at a record low 2.7% for December, the Department of Labor announced this morning.
  • In all, 2,204,740 people were counted as employed, a new record high for the state and an increase of 83,971 from the same time last year.
  • Gov. Kay Ivey said she was proud to see the state end the year and decade with record employment.
  • “I’m excited about the path that Alabama is on, and the positive impacts this news has on our people,” she said.
  • Read more from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.


2. Mental Health seeks more crisis centers

  • The Alabama Department of Mental Health is asking the Legislature for $18 million to create three crisis diversion centers around the state.
  • Commissioner Lynn Beshear said these centers will ensure those facing mental health crises will get the proper care, instead of just ending up in a county jail or an emergency room.
  • “These centers allow for the most intensive levels of care at a centralized location in a cost effective manner,” Beshear told lawmakers Thursday during General Fund agency budget hearings at the State House.
  • According to ADMH, crisis diversion centers provide a physical access point for care for people who may otherwise end up in emergency rooms or jails. Centers include both walk-in access for individuals and the ability for emergency departments and law enforcement agencies to transfer people to the center for crisis care, including short-term admission, medication management, case management, discharge planning, and connection to ongoing behavioral health care services.
  • House Ways and Means General Fund chairman Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, said he has heard of the need for diversion centers from constituents and law enforcement.
  • “Police departments don’t know what to do and the local county jails can keep them overnight but they don’t have a long-term solution for them,” Clouse told ADN. “I think it’s something that’s warranted.”
  • Read more from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.






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3. Prisons, Paroles ask for more funding in 2021

  • Things got a little testy during Day 2 of legislative budget hearings as Pardons and Paroles Director Charlie Graddick discussed his FY2021 funding request before a joint committee of lawmakers.
  • Graddick asked for an $11 million increase from the state’s General Fund, but was met with questions about how previous funding allocations have been spent, a recent decline in parole rates and his desire to close a parolee job-training facility.
  • The $11 million increase from this year’s $48 million General Fund allocation would go toward hiring 28 new probation officers. Graddick also said there was about $25 million from previous years that has continued to be rolled over that the department planned on using to make the new hires as well.
  • “We’ll be taking a strong look at that request,” said Rep. Steve Clouse, R-Ozark, chairman of the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee.
  • Meanwhile, Alabama Department of Corrections Commissioner Jeff Dunn asked lawmakers for a $42 million increase that would mostly go toward staffing and inmate health care.
  • Dunn hopes to recruit a total of 700 new security staff members, which would put the department on track to obtaining the federally mandated 2,200 additional correctional officers by 2022.
  • “I’m optimistic of it because we’re ahead of the pace for 2020,” Dunn said. “If we continue on the trajectory that we’re on then I’m very optimistic.”
  • Read the full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.



4. Impeachment Day Two or Three

  • Democrats argued that President Donald Trump sought a phony investigation of a political rival and pursued a discredited conspiracy theory about Ukraine, while restless senators played with a new toy Thursday during Trump’s impeachment trial.
  • Democratic House prosecutors made an expansive case at Trump’s impeachment trial that he abused power like no other president in history, swept up by a “completely bogus” Ukraine theory pushed by attorney Rudy Giuliani.
  • Today, House Democrats will press their final day of arguments before skeptical Republican senators, focusing on the second article of impeachment, obstruction of Congress’ investigation.
  • Trump’s legal team is expected to begin presenting its defense on Saturday, a fact Trump bemoaned in a Friday tweet, saying “looks like my lawyers will be forced to start on Saturday, which is called Death Valley in T.V.”
  • Read the highlights of what happened in the impeachment trial HERE.



5. News Briefs

Herbert, other Senior Bowl players hope staying put pays off

  • MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — A year ago, Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert decided to stick around for his senior season instead of turning pro. Wisconsin linebacker Zack Baun didn’t really have much choice.
  • Both had impressive final college seasons, including a head-to-head Rose Bowl matchup, and believe they’re more NFL-ready now. They’re among the participants in Saturday’s Senior Bowl game for senior NFL prospects and some junior graduates.
  • Some of them, including Baun, have only recently emerged as legitimate prospects. Others like South Carolina defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw and Michigan State defensive end Kenny Willekes stayed in college for one more season largely because of injuries. Ditto for Alabama linebacker Terrell Lewis.
  • “I wanted to be a better leader, a better teammate, a better quarterback,” said Herbert, who would also have been a likely first-round draft pick last year. “All these things that I felt like I accomplished this year.”
  • Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban, who lost six underclassmen to the draft, said he advises all his juniors to leave if they’re likely first-round picks.
  • Read more HERE.

Teen indicted in crash that killed Auburn announcer, wife

  • OPELIKA, Ala. (AP) — Grand jurors have indicted a teenager on manslaughter charges in the fatal crash that killed Auburn University announcer Rod Bramblett and his wife last year.
  • Johnston Edward Taylor, 16, was indicted on two counts of reckless manslaughter by a grand jury on Jan. 16, news outlets reported.
  • Lee County District Attorney Brandon Hughes confirmed the indictments Thursday.
  • An arraignment hearing was scheduled for Jan. 30. Defense lawyer Tommy Spina has called Taylor a “very troubled young man” who needs help.
  • Authorities allege Taylor was driving about 90 mph (145 kph) in a 55 mph (90 kph) zone when he rear-ended the Brambletts’ vehicle in Auburn in May. Bramblett and his wife, Paula, were killed, but Taylor wasn’t seriously injured.
  • Taylor told officers he fell asleep while driving and didn’t remember what happened, a police report said. A test indicated he had used marijuana, a court document showed.
  • While Taylor was initially freed on bond after the wreck, a judge revoked his bail in December after prosecutors said Taylor got at least three tickets in November for speeding and reckless driving. In one case, authorities found marijuana residue in his car, prosecutors said.

Repeat offender sentenced to 10 years for having child porn

  • MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama sex offender was sentenced to 10 years in prison for possessing child pornography.
  • Barney Knotts, 74, was sentenced Wednesday to a decade in prison, news outlets reported. Knotts, who pleaded guilty in September, was a registered sex offender in Alabama at the time of his arrest. He was convicted in 1985 of producing child porn, a Department of Justice release said.
  • Knotts registered his residence in Hope Hull in 2017. Soon after, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children contacted authorities about concerning online conversations tracked to his home.
  • The conversations included details about “potential child exploitation,” the release said. When authorities went to his house, Knotts allowed them to search his computers, where they found more than 1,000 images of child pornography and multiple discussions about child exploitation.
  • Following his prison sentence, Knotts will be subjected to supervised release for the rest of his life.
  • Hope Hull is an unincorporated community in Montgomery County, nine miles southwest of Montgomery.

Woman charged with helping Alabama prison escapee

  • FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) — A woman is charged with assisting an Alabama inmate who was recaptured in the Tennessee Valley, authorities said.
  • Escapee Xavier Lamont Armstead, 26, was arrested in Florence on Wednesday, according to a statement from the Department of Corrections. Officers also arrested 23-year-old Kayla Jean Fryer, who officials said was with the prisoner when he was arrested.
  • Fryer is being charged with hindering the apprehension of an escaped inmate, the statement said. Court records were not immediately available to show whether she had an attorney.
  • Armstead, who is being charged with escape and other offenses, was serving 19 years for burglary convictions in Colbert County. The work release prisoner escaped by fleeing a job site in Tuscumbia, prison officials said.

2 men indicted in death of Alabama teen found dead in 2017

  • HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (AP) — Two men have been indicted on murder charges in the death of an Alabama teenager whose body was found in the Tennessee River more than two years ago.
  • WHNT-TV reported that Eugene Defredrick Collyear, 56, and Chandler Demetrius Herring, 19, were charged in the death of 17-year-old Rose Ellen Jones.
  • Jones’ body was found in the river in August 2017 more than a week after she was reported missing.
  • Authorities arrested Collyear and Herring in early 2018. Collyear remains in the Madison County Jail on a $52,500 bond, while court records show Herring was released on bond.
  • An arraignment hearing where the men could enter a plea is set for March 18.








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ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama maintains record 2.7% unemployment
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Paroles, prisons seek more money in 2021
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama Department of Mental Health seeks 3 crisis centers
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Trial highlights: Conspiracy theories and fidget spinners
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Herbert, other Senior Bowl players hope staying put pays off
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Literacy education, mental health services big requests in 2021 budget
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill would add law enforcement officers to protected classes
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Mobile dims chances for Amtrak renewal on Gulf Coast
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – 16-year-old arrested in slaying of Alabama mother, twin sons
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – January 23, 2020
AL.COM  – Paroles Bureau Director Graddick has contentious exchange with lawmakers
AL.COM  – Facebook, tech companies give $250,000 to new state cyber school
AL.COM  – Alabama ministry pays 1,300 students’ lunchroom debt
AL.COM  – No due process for Alabama students facing discipline, SPLC says
AL.COM  – Trump tweets out Alabama poll showing Sessions leading primary
AL.COM  – As coronavirus spreads, should the South worry?
AL.COM  – Human Rights Campaign endorses Doug Jones for re-election
AL.COM  – U.S. Sen. Doug Jones hopes to hear from John Bolton in impeachment trial
AL.COM  – Troubled Alabama prison system seeks $42 million budget hike
AL.COM  – Highway 31 backers answer Roy Moore defamation lawsuit
AL.COM  – Alabama college team wins NASA’s Space Apps Challenge
AL.COM  – Alabama has 33rd healthiest economy in nation, survey says
AL.COM  – Montgomery’s first black mayor wants to build city of the future from racist past
AL.COM  – Airbus remains committed to Mobile project amid Bombardier woes
Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama prison crisis hovers over Corrections, Pardons and Paroles budget requests
Montgomery Advertiser – U.S. Marshals searching for Anthony Stoddard in connection to weekend homicide
Montgomery Advertiser – Police investigating sixth homicide of 2020 after man found dead in vehicle on Stella Street
YellowHammer News – Ivey, Chick-fil-A honor Sylacauga charity
YellowHammer News – Tampa Bay QB Jameis Winston donates $50K to Miles College
YellowHammer News – Birmingham launches anti-littering campaign
Dothan Eagle – Houston county schools are getting 450 new student computers for school labs
Dothan Eagle – Dothan, Troy locations of Waffle House are accepting Valentine’s Day reservations now
Dothan Eagle – Tullos details why he thinks Enterprise won veterans home project
Tuscaloosa News – Sessions touts experience, Trump ties.
Decatur Daily – Health care on demand: Convenience, easy access leading to more urgent care centers in area
Decatur Daily – Concerns raised that zoning changes would deter developers
Decatur Daily – Future authors: Conference teaches students to write nonfiction
Times Daily  – Literacy education, mental health services big requests in 2021 budget
Times Daily – Employment Growth Program seeks additional funds
Times Daily – Deceased cows lead to arrest warrants for Colbert landowner
Gadsden Times – GECEMA hosts an open house after moving to Etowah 911 building
Gadsden Times – Teen charged in Munford triple homicide arrested in Ball Play
Gadsden Times – Suspects intentionally hit DeKalb sheriff’s vehicle during chase
Anniston Star – Oxford EMS director, family members no longer employed at ambulance service
Anniston Star – NAACP head claims wrongdoing by former prosecutor in 2014 fatal crash
Anniston Star – Leesburg man charged with attacking deputy
Troy Messenger – Lions raising funds to bring supply closets to schools
Troy Messenger – Convicted murderer denied parole
Troy Messenger – Meeksville Shelter open house set for Saturday morning
Opelika-Auburn News – 3 Americans killed in firefighting plane crash in Australia
Opelika-Auburn News – Saban cites ‘internal things’ as holdup to announcement about hiring of DL coach Freddie Roach
Opelika-Auburn News – DECISION 2020: A complete voters guide to the 2020 election
Daily Mountain Eagle – Traffic stop leads to drug arrest, 49 grams of meth
Daily Mountain Eagle – Robotics competition held at Bankhead
Daily Mountain Eagle – 13 arrested on drug charges from single residence
Trussville Tribune – Trussville Lacrosse teams continue mission to use football stadium
Trussville Tribune – 8 years later: City of Clay continues to move forward after devastating and deadly tornado
Trussville Tribune – Clay woman accused of using diaper bag to conceal stolen goods from Kohl’s in Trussville
Athens News Courier – Pharmacy employee charged with drug theft
Athens News Courier – Filmmakers choose Athens for slasher comedy
Sand Mountain Reporter – Routine call turns violent in Fort Payne | Horton man had warrants with several agencies
Sand Mountain Reporter – Another arrest made in bestiality, sodomy case
Sand Mountain Reporter – DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office cracks down on crimes against kids
WSFA Montgomery – 24-year-old charged with second degree rape and enticing a child in case of Pelham teen
WSFA Montgomery – Charge downgraded for suspect accused of knocking out teen
WSFA Montgomery – 1 dead in shooting on Montgomery’s Stella Street
Fox 6 Birmingham – Jeff Co. assisting with new road work in Fairfield
Fox 6 Birmingham – Tuscaloosa County now has a mental health clerk
Fox 6 Birmingham – Eutaw woman has working heat after calling WBRC Fox6 News for help
WAFF Huntsville – Former patient of Madison County doctor on trial says she ran a pill mill
WAFF Huntsville – Brindlee Mountain High School and elementary students return to school after tornado and receive donations
WAFF Huntsville – Morgan County sheriff proposes additional fee on license plate tags to fund SROs
WKRG Mobile – Police chase ends in fatal crash on Highway 21 in Atmore
WKRG Mobile – U.S. House District 1 candidates participate in forum in Robertsdale
WKRG Mobile – Suspect accused of killing three Hurricane Michael lineman pleads no contest
WTVY Dothan – Two charged during Elba murder investigation
WTVY Dothan – New Classrooms, buses among many new projects for Coffee County schools.
WTVY Dothan – Dothan City Schools looks to decrease overtime spending
WASHINGTON POST  – Democrats detail abuse-of-power charge against Trump as Republicans complain of repetitive arguments
WASHINGTON POST  – FICO changes mean 40 million Americans could soon see lower credit scores.
NEW YORK TIMES  – Democrats Seek to Pre-empt Trump’s Defense in Impeachment Trial
NEW YORK TIMES  – Senators Battle a Persistent Impeachment Foe: Their Own Restlessness
NEW YORK TIMES  – Now Testifying for the Prosecution: President Trump

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