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Daily News Digest – November 22, 2019

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The Boeing Company

Good morning and Happy Friday!
Here’s your Daily News for November 22.

1. As hearings resume this month, paroles way down

  • Under new leadership, the Alabama Board of Pardons and Paroles approved parole in November for just less than 8% of inmates who came before it.
  • That’s a decline from earlier this year when it was paroling about 21 percent of the violent offenders and 46 percent of non-violent offenders it saw. Those numbers were a decline from previous years, Alabama Daily News previously reported.
  • Hearings were paused earlier this fall when Charlie Graddick, appointed by Gov. Kay Ivey, became executive director of the agency. Since resuming the hearings early this month, the board has denied parole in 104 of the 113 cases.
  • Graddick has maintained that parole should not be used to help lessen Alabama’s crowded prisons and that parole is not a given right for all inmates.
  • Read the full story from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.




2. Hearing on solar fees

  • Environmental groups on Thursday challenged Alabama Power’s charges on those who use solar panels to produce part of their home electricity, a fee the utility maintains is necessary to cover providing backup power.
  • The Alabama Public Service Commission held a hearing on the petition to abolish the fee. Commissioners heard both the utility’s defense of the fee and advocates’ contention that it is unprecedented and purposely discourages the use of solar panels in a sun-rich state. Commissioners will likely not rule until next year.
  • Alabama Power charges a $5-per-kilowatt fee, based on the capacity of the home system, on people who use solar panels, or other means, to generate part of their own electricity. That amounts to a $25 monthly fee on a typical 5-kilowatt system.
  • Alabama Power said the fee is charged to maintain infrastructure to provide backup power when the solar panels don’t provide enough energy. The utility is asking to increase the charge to $5.41.
  • “If they don’t produce, I have to stand ready to serve them,” Alabama Power pricing manager Natalie Dean testified at the hearing.
  • A ruling from the PSC isn’t expected until next year.
  • Full story from Kim Chandler HERE








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3. Police shooting case to jury

  • The jury is expected to begin deliberations soon in the trial of a white police officer charged with killing an unarmed black man in 2016.
  • Testimony concluded Thursday with Montgomery police Officer Aaron Cody Smith taking the stand to describe the fatal shooting of 58-year-old Gregory Gunn. Prosecutors and a defense lawyer gave diverging different descriptions of the fatal encounter in closing arguments.
  • Gunn ran after Smith had stopped him for a stop-and-frisk as he was walking home. The defense maintains Smith fired in self-defense because Gunn was grabbing a painter’s pole from a porch, but prosecutors say Gunn was never a threat.
  • The trial was moved from Montgomery to Ozark, about 85 miles away, because of publicity.
  • Read and watch reporting from Ozark via the Advertiser’s Melissa Brown and Kirsten Fiscus HERE and from WSFA’s Jenn Horton HERE.


4. We got some hog money

  • Feral hogs are a menace.
  • Ask anyone with some land and they’ll tell you so.
  • Now, certain counties in Alabama will get some help controlling the feral swine population thanks to a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
  • Alabama will receive $3.7 million from the U.S. Department of Agriculture under their Feral Swine Eradication and Control Pilot Program (FSCP) — a joint effort between USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
  • Alabama Farmers Federation President Jimmy Parnell said he was happy to see the state receive the funding.
  • “We are very pleased to see additional resources being allocated to combat agricultural damage caused by feral swine,” said Parnell. “Increased federal funding for control efforts has been a priority for the Federation and this, in addition to increased funding through the annual appropriations process, will go a long way to support our farmers as they manage feral swine.”
  • Alabama pilot projects have included in the last three years select watersheds in Baldwin, Escambia, Geneva, Henry, Houston and Sumter counties.
  • Read more from Caroline Beck HERE.


5. News Briefs


FBI lawyer investigated over altered Russia probe document

  • WASHINGTON (AP) — A former FBI lawyer is being investigated for allegedly altering a document related to surveillance of a Trump campaign adviser in 2016. That’s according to a person familiar with the case and published news reports.
  • The Associated Press confirmed reports by CNN and The Washington Post that the finding will be in a report Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz releases Dec. 9 on early stages of the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling.
  • The news reports cited unidentified individuals.
  • The conduct of the FBI employee, who was forced out, didn’t alter Horowitz’s finding that the surveillance application of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page had a proper legal and factual basis, an official told the Post.
  • An FBI spokesman declined comment Friday. An inspector general spokesman didn’t return a message seeking comment

South Alabama teacher found shot to death inside home

  • MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — A University of South Alabama teacher was found shot to death inside his home after police went to check on him because of co-workers’ concerns, authorities said Thursday.
  • A statement from the Mobile Police Department said the death of Matthew Wiser, 39, was being investigated as a murder.
  • Wiser was an associate professor in the business school at South Alabama. He was a graduate of the University of Rochester and Louisiana State University who taught economics and finance, according to his faculty web page.
  • A university statement said campus police went to check on Wiser over concerns expressed by colleagues. Officers found him dead with an apparent gunshot wound inside his home, Mobile police said.
  • Shelby Walter, who took one of Wiser’s economics classes in the spring, told WKRG-TV he was a “great teacher.”
  • “He helped with students who had trouble with homework. He really wanted his students to pass,” said Walter.

Jefferson County names its first black superintendent

  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — One of Alabama’s largest public school districts has named its first black superintendent.
  • The Jefferson County Board of Education named Dr. Walter Gonsoulin to the post on Thursday. Gonsoulin joined the Birmingham-based district as deputy superintendent in August 2017 and became interim superintendent in September after the former leader left to become the president of Coastal Alabama Community College.
  • reports a district spokesman says he was the only applicant for the position.
  • Gonsoulin has been an educator for more than twenty years.





ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Less than 8% of all Paroles were granted in November
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Power fees on solar challenged
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Alabama to Receive $3.7 million from USDA to Control Feral Hog Population
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Bill would increase survivor benefit, others for National Guard members on state active duty
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Divided US House committee backs pot decriminalization
ALABAMA DAILY NEWS  – Daily News Digest – November 21, 2019
AL.COM  – This ‘zombie’ disease could kill Alabama’s $1.8 billion deer hunting industry
AL.COM  – Alabama’s 1st congressional district debate produces few sparks, focuses on issues
AL.COM  – Alabama Power solar fee questioned in public hearing
AL.COM  – State BOE member Jackie Zeigler says ballot measure unclear to voters
AL.COM  – Drought conditions improve even more in Alabama this week
AL.COM  – RNC’s boosting of Trump Jr. book a boon to Birmingham’s Books-A-Million
AL.COM  – Tuscaloosa County studying infrastructure for industrial project
AL.COM  – Salvation Army on Chick-fil-A charity cut; 11,000 Angel Tree children funded by donation
AL.COM  – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: It’s time Alabama Dems left Nancy’s Neverland behind
Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery officer AC Smith trial: What we’ve learned each day for Greg Gunn murder charge
Montgomery Advertiser – The hunt is on: Police, U.S. Marshals name suspect in fatal Ann St. stabbing
Montgomery Advertiser – Alabama Public Services Commission ponders fees that would impact rooftop solar panels
YellowHammer News – Hoyt Hutchinson: ‘I don’t deserve’ a medal — ‘The real heroes’ in the military, law enforcement do
YellowHammer News – Anniston, Eufaula airports get federal grants from Trump administration thanks to ‘robust economy,’ Shelby’s leadership
YellowHammer News – New research center set to keep Auburn at the forefront of poultry science
Dothan Eagle – Dothan firefighters battle blaze at old Supreme Meadow Gold Ice Cream building
Dothan Eagle – First amendment expert: Ashford teachers’ speech likely not protected in leaked messages case
Dothan Eagle – DDRA officials hoped to establish a permanent farmers market in the former Supreme Meadow Gold building. A major fire won’t change that.
Tuscaloosa News – Amp work under way in time for Holidays on River event
Tuscaloosa News – Dotson’s Burger Spot in Temerson Square will close Tuesday
Tuscaloosa News – Black Georgia lawmakers to push for state hate crimes law
Decatur Daily – Jury finds Cedric Cowan guilty on 3 capital murder counts, 5 robbery counts
Decatur Daily – Decatur man arrested on domestic violence, burglary charges
Decatur Daily – Commission moves Lester polling site
Times Daily – Sex offender charged with notification failure
Times Daily – 9 months, $1M later, Decatur Avenue repairs near an end
Times Daily – Simmons says she’s running on productivity
Gadsden Times – DeKalb sheriff’s office seeking woman on felony warrant
Gadsden Times – Deputy appeals demotion to ESCO personnel board
Gadsden Times – Multiple volunteer fire departments respond to DeKalb County fire
Anniston Star – Anniston High career tech programs continue to grow
Anniston Star – Board members celebrate and question state grades
Anniston Star – Anniston High career tech programs continue to grow
Troy Messenger – Apartment complex annexation denied
Troy Messenger – Downtown Christmas Open House kicks off shopping season Saturday
Troy Messenger – ‘Great Bowls of Fire’ Chili Cook-off is Saturday at Pioneer Museum
Andalusia Star News – Opp receives $450K for sewer project
Andalusia Star News – Native named president of Tennessee Baptists
Andalusia Star News – Man pleads to two counts of possession
Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika Christmas parade making a comeback
Opelika-Auburn News – New York and South Carolina men facing robbery charges in Auburn
Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika police looking for tequila thief
Daily Mountain Eagle – Jail employee promoted to corrections training officer
Daily Mountain Eagle – Festival of Lights to open next Friday
Daily Mountain Eagle – Sensory Santa events offered in Birmingham area
Trussville Tribune – Man charged in knifepoint robbery at St. Vincent’s East
Trussville Tribune – 4 teenagers charged with murder in slaying of Ramsay High School student
Trussville Tribune – South Alabama teacher found shot to death inside home
Athens News Courier – Littleville man charged in killing of rival college football fan
Athens News Courier – SEWER WORK: Portions of Ryan Street in Athens to remained closed through Dec. 6
Athens News Courier – Medicare drug plan finder can steer seniors to higher costs
Sand Mountain Reporter – Animal Control now offers microchips | Marshall County Commission approves technology to help reunite owners with pets
Sand Mountain Reporter – Ross seeks Marshall County district judge seat
Sand Mountain Reporter – Putting families together | Marshall County DHR hosts adoption celebration
WSFA Montgomery – ALEA needs more state troopers to fill gaps from retirements
WSFA Montgomery – Detective: Witness remorseful he didn’t immediately report Blanchard’s kidnapping
WSFA Montgomery – Sheriff’s office searching for Covington County rape suspect
Fox 6 Birmingham – Dr. Autumm Jeter named superintendent of Bessemer City Schools, outlines goals
Fox 6 Birmingham – U.S. Attorney creates officer-involved shooting advisory council
Fox 6 Birmingham – Wenonah High’s Student Life Center helping break down barriers to student success
WAFF Huntsville – Decatur police searching for murder suspect
WAFF Huntsville – ALEA needs more state troopers to fill gaps from retirements
WAFF Huntsville – Huntsville City Council passes $14M Greene Street Parking Garage contract
WKRG Mobile – Republican congressional candidates debate the issues
WKRG Mobile – Police chase ends in crash in Baldwin County
WKRG Mobile – MPD patrolling interstates Friday
WTVY Dothan – Skeletal remains found in Eufaula ID’d as woman reported missing in July
WTVY Dothan – Sheriff’s office searching for Covington County rape suspect
WTVY Dothan – Blakely mayoral candidates debate in political forum
WASHINGTON POST  – Impeachment witness warns that conspiracy theories advance Russia’s agenda as they divide Americans.
WASHINGTON POST  – New Trump administration plan could boost oil drilling on remote Alaska reserve
WASHINGTON POST  – Personal loans are ‘growing like a weed,’ a potential warning sign for the U.S. economy
NEW YORK TIMES  – Republicans Now Support a Form of Paid Leave. So What’s the Holdup?
NEW YORK TIMES  – A Wet Year Causes Farm Woes Far Beyond the Floodplains

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