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Daily News Digest – June 10, 2020

Good morning!

Here’s your Daily News for Wednesday, June 10.


1. Hospitals alarmed at rising cases in Montgomery

  • Hospital officials in Alabama’s capital city are raising concerns about a rapid rise in coronavirus cases in Montgomery County.
  • Montgomery County, with 2,100 cases, now has the second highest number of virus cases in the state, second only to Mobile. As of this morning, more than 21,000 people statewide had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, and more than 725 people statewide had died. Nearly 11,400 are presumed to have fully recovered from the disease.
  • Montgomery has reported more than 800 new cases in the last two weeks, about twice what was seen in Jefferson and Mobile counties
  • Dr. Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, said the trends in central Alabama are alarming.
  • “It’s community transmission,” Williamson said. “You don’t need to go out and do things just because you can. Minimizing exposure, wearing a mask, washing hands and social distancing are critically important.”
  • Read more, including comments from Jackson Hospital’s Dr. David Thrasher HERE.



2. Sessions poll shows him gaining ground in Senate race


  • new internal poll shows Jeff Sessions cutting into Tommy Tuberville’s lead in the GOP runoff for U.S. Senate.
  • A survey conducted on behalf of the Sessions campaign shows the former U.S. Attorney General trailing the former Auburn football coach 43% to 49% in a ballot test among likely Republican voters. Eight percent of voters remain undecided, the survey showed.
  • A poll taken by Cygnal in mid-May showed Tuberville leading the race by 23 points. The runoff election takes place July 14.
  • In addition to gauging the state of the horse race, the survey also sought to answer several questions regarding voter opinion of President Donald Trump’s displeasure with Sessions. Trump has endorsed Tuberville in the race and has recently attacked Sessions on Twitter and in the media, blaming his legal troubles on Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Department of Justice investigation into Russian efforts to influence the 2016 election.
  • Trump retains a 92% favorable rating among Republican voters, the poll showed. However, 79% of voters said they could support both Trump and Sessions without being disloyal and 69% said they think Trump should stop attacking Sessions.
  • Some people are reflexively suspect of internal polls that get released like this because, after all, they are paid for by the campaign. It is certainly possible for a campaign to cook a poll and it happens. But, having worked in the business, I have to say few campaigns want to shell out tens of thousands of dollars for an inaccurate survey that is supposed to guide messaging decisions. Likewise, quality pollsters don’t want their reputations stained by releasing a clearly cooked poll.
  • Anyway, read more and see the full poll results for yourself HERE.


3. Nine companies bid to run statewide virtual school

  • Nine companies submitted proposals to provide an at-home virtual learning option for K-12 students statewide.
  • The Alabama State Department of Education opened the bids Tuesday morning.
  • Last month, Alabama Daily News reported that ALSDE wants a statewide virtual learning option for K-12 students whose parents may not want them to return to traditional classrooms this fall. The online platform will also be an option should school systems have to close their physical doors again.
  • “If we have some periodic, episodic closures in the fall or spring of next year, we’ll be better prepared,” State Superintendent Eric Mackey said then.
  • The department issued a request for proposals for vendors “to provide and manage a comprehensive statewide K-12 virtual school for the students of the State of Alabama…”
  • Another option in the RFP allows for the purchase of K-12 course content that meets all the standards of the state’s courses of study and can be accessed by students remotely.
  • The department wants the virtual option available to families in August.
  • Read more, including which vendors are applying for the contract, from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.


4. Macon County covers up Confederate statue

A Confederate monument dedicated in 1909 stands in the middle of the square in Tuskegee. Following nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd and an attack on the monument by vandals, the chairman of the Macon County Commission said officials will cover the memorial with a tarp and are looking for ways to remove it. (AP Photo/Jay Reeves)
  • A majority black county known as a birthplace of African American empowerment is covering up a Confederate memorial erected more than a century ago and looking for ways to remove it permanently, a government leader said Tuesday.
  • Workers used a tarpaulin and ropes to cover up the square base of a 111-year-old statue because it was recently spray painted with obscenities, Macon County Commission Chairman Louis Maxwell said in an interview.
  • The east Alabama county, which is more than 80% black, also is researching what will be needed to remove the statue from its base and relocate it elsewhere, perhaps to a nearby heritage museum, Maxwell said.
  • “It’s part of the history of the county whether you like it or not, and we want to preserve it,” Maxwell said.
  • Other cities including Birmingham have removed rebel memorials during the demonstrations, and Maxwell said it’s time to take down the monument in Tuskegee, the home of Tuskegee University and the place where the nation’s first black military pilots, the Tuskegee Airmen, trained during World War II.
  • The county is researching the implications of an Alabama law passed in 2017 to prevent the removal of historic monuments, Maxwell said. Officials in Birmingham said the $25,000 state assessment for removing its Confederate monument is less than the cost of continued unrest.
  • Full story from Jay Reeves HERE.



5. The Black Belt amid pandemic and job loss

  • Speaking of Macon County, it is one of 18 counties stretching across south and central Alabama known as the Black Belt, where some of the poorest people in the state live.
  • As Jay Reeves writes, life can be tough even on a good day in the Black Belt. Their struggle has become even more difficult with unemployment intensifying and coronavirus infections raging.
  • “When the rest of the country catches a cold, a place like the Black Belt catches the flu,” said Lydia Chatmon, who works with the Selma Center for Non-Violence and helps coordinate with the Black Belt Community Foundation.
  • Stretching from Louisiana to Virginia, the Black Belt is a crescent-shaped agricultural region first known for the color of its soil and then for its mostly black population. It provided for much of the antebellum South’s cotton economy, and remains home to many descendants of slaves. With relatively little industry and a declining population, poverty remains a constant problem.
  • Black Belt counties have eight of the nine worst infection rates in Alabama. The area also took the hardest hit from unemployment during the economic shutdown, with eight Black Belt counties having jobless rates near or above 20%.
  • Read Jay’s full story about life in the Black Belt amid coronavirus and how communities are coming together to help families make it through.



News Briefs


FBI agents show up at home of superintendent in Alabama

  • ATHENS, Ala. (AP) — The superintendent of an Alabama school district said “there are absolutely no charges” against him after the FBI showed up at his home.
  • FBI spokesman Paul Daymond told multiple news outlets that agents went to the home of Athens City Schools Superintendent Trey Holladay “as part of a law enforcement action” on Tuesday morning. He declined to comment further.
  • Holladay has been superintendent of the district since 2013, according to its website. He said in a statement to news outlets that he’s proud to be in the position.
  • “I appreciate so much the overwhelming support from my friends and community,” Holladay stated. He didn’t elaborate on why FBI agents paid a visit to his home.
  • The school district also released a statement Tuesday saying it was monitoring the situation and would assist with any requests from officials.
  • Story link.

NASCAR set to allow fans back in Florida, Alabama

  • NASCAR is ready to reopen to fans.
  • One of the few sports to run in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, NASCAR is now the largest to allow fans to return as more states relax their business shutdowns.
  • NASCAR decided a limited number of fans can attend races this month at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway. NASCAR says all fans will be screened before entering, required to wear face coverings, mandated to social distance at six feet, and will not have access to the infield, among other revised operational protocols.
  • NASCAR will allow up to 1,000 Florida service members, representing the Homestead Air Reserve Base and U.S. Southern Command in Doral, to attend the Cup Series race Sunday as honorary guests and view the race from the grandstands.
  • Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama will allow up to 5,000 guests in the frontstretch grandstands/towers for the June 21 Cup race. There will be limited motorhome/camping spots available outside the track.
  • “It’s a cautious, conservative approach,” said Daryl Wolfe, NASCAR executive vice president and chief sales and operations officer. “We feel confident in our plan. Also it doesn’t mean that we won’t also have additional learnings and adapt our plan going forward. That’s the whole purpose of being very slow, methodical in phasing this in.”
  • Full story from Dan Gelston HERE.

Troy University fires police chief over George Floyd remarks

  • TROY, Ala. (AP) — Troy University has fired its campus police chief over comments he made on social media about the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota, the school said Tuesday.
  • Troy University Chancellor Jack Hawkins, in a statement released via the school’s social media accounts, said statements by John McCall did not reflect the university’s values and that officials had lost confidence in his ability to lead the police department.
  • News outlets reported that McCall, in a Facebook post that was widely circulated on social media, said Floyd “absolutely” helped cause his own death, although authorities filed charges against four police officers in the killing.
  • One former Minneapolis police officer is charged with murder in Floyd’s death, and three others have been charged with aiding in the killing. Video showed one officer pressing into Floyd’s neck and others standing nearby as the man lost consciousness and later died.
  • McCall was suspended from his job last week, and Hawkins said he was dismissed after an investigation. McCall hasn’t commented publicly about the controversy.

Man cleared in wife’s slaying seeking $6M from city

  • DOTHAN, Ala. (AP) — A man who was arrested in his wife’s slaying only to be cleared later is seeking $6 million from an Alabama city, news outlets reported.
  • Carl Harris is demanding the money from the city of Ozark, where police initially arrested him in the 1990 death of wife Tracey Harris in 2016. She was found dead in the Choctawhatchee River but no arrests were made for years.
  • Harris was moments from going to trial in January when Ozark police arrested another man and cleared Harris. That man, Jeff Beasley of Ozark, is now awaiting trial. Harris is seeking repayment for alleged mistreatment, malicious prosecution, false imprisonment, emotional distress, and pain and suffering.
  • Harris’ lawyer, David Harrison, said the next step would be to file a federal lawsuit against the city, investigators and Ozark Police Chief Marlos Walker over claims they violated Harris’ rights.
  • Walker did not immediately return an email seeking comment Tuesday.





ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Hospitals alarmed at rising Montgomery virus cases


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – New poll shows Sessions closing gap with Tuberville


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Macon County covering up Confederate statue


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Surviving in America’s Black Belt amid pandemic and job loss


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – FBI agents show up at home of superintendent in Alabama


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – NASCAR set to allow fans back in Florida, Alabama


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – As contact tracing increases, some look at limits


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – University of Alabama removes Confederate plaques, studies building names


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Hundreds attend funeral of slain Alabama police officer


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Black store owner reports robbery, gets punched by officer


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Greg Barker named EDPA president


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Building bubbles: Cautious 1st steps toward football season


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – June 9, 2020


AL.COM  – Birmingham Schools end lease with Church of the Highlands


AL.COM  – Alabama AG Steve Marshall asks Mobile to clarify reason behind Confederate monument removal


AL.COM  – Bill Pryor assumes role as Chief Judge of 11th Circuit Court of Appeals


AL.COM  – Birmingham extends mask ordinance to July 3


AL.COM  – For the first time, Alabama shuts down a charter school


AL.COM  – Alabama prisons way behind in court order on staffing


AL.COM  – Auburn firm lands $143 million contract for COVID-19 vaccine packages


AL.COM  – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: Alabama monument law turns AG into stone


Montgomery Advertiser – Man who barricaded himself inside home following shooting charged with assault


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery Public Schools asks for state to end intervention


Montgomery Advertiser – Activists to call for name changes at Lee, Lanier, Jeff Davis high schools at tonight’s MPS meeting


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Infant found dead following Amber Alert, father arrested


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Should you keep wearing a mask to prevent spreading COVID-19?


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – American Red Cross announces it will soon offer antibody tests


Tuscaloosa News – Almond to end City Council career


Tuscaloosa News – Police: Black store owner reports robbery, punched by officer


Tuscaloosa News – Hospitals raise concern over rise in Montgomery virus cases


Decatur Daily – Jackson calls for termination of officer who allegedly punched liquor store owner


Decatur Daily – SPLC, Wayne Farms announce $300,000 settlement


Decatur Daily – Ambulance service meets response requirements for 2nd straight month


Times Daily – Flight brings peace to cancer victim Otis Petty


Times Daily – Commission denies vote on monument


Times Daily – Cities, counties can apply for COVID-19 relief money


Anniston Star – Cleburne County High School’s seniors finally enjoy thrill of graduation


Anniston Star – Bystander, firefighters save 4-year-old, Jacksonville chief tells council


Anniston Star – Anniston man charged with domestic violence


YellowHammer News – Mobile County creates small business relief fund for companies hurt by COVID-19


YellowHammer News – NASCAR set to allow 5,000 fans to attend Talladega Superspeedway’s June 21 GEICO 500


YellowHammer News – Hightower releases ad highlighting I-10 toll opposition, Trump loyalty


Dothan Eagle – Patient dies in ambulance crash in Enterprise


Dothan Eagle – Botulism deemed likely cause of death for wildlife in local subdivision


Dothan Eagle – Man arrested after strangling victim at a local hospital


Gadsden Times – Council members call for relocation of Sansom monument


Gadsden Times – Law enforcement officials willing to meet with BLM leaders


Gadsden Times – Two from Etowah County schools earn National Merit Scholarships


Troy Messenger – Howards honored for lifetime efforts


Troy Messenger – ‘The COVID-19 journey will be long’


Troy Messenger – Goshen graduate earns pilot’s license, high school diploma and associate’s degree


Andalusia Star News – Extension Office offering 2 free nutrition programs


Andalusia Star News – Andalusia City Pool now open for the summer


Andalusia Star News – Tillman to join father’s practice


Opelika-Auburn News – One dead after Opelika motel shooting


Opelika-Auburn News – Phenix City drive-by shooting leaves teen dead


Opelika-Auburn News – Police reports from June 9


Daily Mountain Eagle – Murder cases headed to grand jury


Daily Mountain Eagle – County, city students honored for high ACT scores


Daily Mountain Eagle – Merrill’s office to evaluate registrars statewide


Trussville Tribune – Jefferson County hopes to open Floyd Bradford Road Wednesday


Trussville Tribune – Trussville City Council grants alcohol license to Half Shell Oyster, approves study for Chalkville Road


Trussville Tribune – Frustration surrounding lack of garbage service push Argo to move forward with process of replacing Advanced Disposal


Athens News Courier – CITY SCHOOLS: FBI confirms ‘law enforcement action’ at superintendent’s home


Athens News Courier – WALKING FOR JUSTICE: Protesters march to The Square


Athens News Courier – COUNTY SCHOOLS: 1st week busy but great for new superintendent


Sand Mountain Reporter – Rotary Club, Wilson’s Screen Printing donates to Boaz Disaster Relief Fund


Sand Mountain Reporter – Lion’s Den to reopen | Sardis City restaurant staple set to return this summer


Sand Mountain Reporter – Albertville budget on track despite dip in tax revenue due to COVID-19


WSFA Montgomery – Montgomery mayor, police department join #8CantWait campaign


WSFA Montgomery – New COVID-19 cases, deaths reported at 2 nursing homes


WSFA Montgomery – Federal loan changes give some business owners a ‘sigh of relief’


WAFF Huntsville – Lauderdale County Commission votes down moving Confederate statue


WAFF Huntsville – Should you keep wearing a mask to prevent spreading COVID-19?


WAFF Huntsville – Former caretaker for 100-year-old WWII veteran charged with his murder


WKRG Mobile – COVID-19 question of the day: “What should I do if I haven’t received my stimulus check?”


WKRG Mobile – Richardson wants to get rid of the word ‘race’ on all city documents


WKRG Mobile – Doug Jones: Leave monument removal up to local communities


WTVY Dothan – EMA employee Rickey Stokes drove county car when charged with DUI


WTVY Dothan – Hearing to decide Dale County EMA Director’s employment


WTVY Dothan – Dothan City School taking meals to students this summer with mobile feeding bus


WASHINGTON POST  – How the Black Lives Matter movement went mainstream


WASHINGTON POST  – Coronavirus hospitalizations rise sharply in several states following Memorial Day


WASHINGTON POST  – GOP expects to move its convention to Jacksonville after dispute with North Carolina over pandemic safeguards.


WASHINGTON POST  – McConnell taps lone black GOP senator to lead Republican effort on police reform


NEW YORK TIMES  – G.O.P. Scrambles to Respond to Public Demands for Police Overhaul


NEW YORK TIMES  – Trump Falsely Targets Buffalo Protester, 75, as ‘Antifa Provocateur’


NEW YORK TIMES  – Trump Rebuffs Protests Over Systemic Racism and Calls Police ‘Great People’


NEW YORK TIMES  – Fauci Warns That the Coronavirus Pandemic Is Far From Over




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