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Daily News Digest – October 15, 2020

Good morning!

I had fun talking politics with Jonathan Hardison of WBRC Fox 6 on his weekly deep dive into the 2020 election. We’ll do it again next week and on election night.

Here’s your Daily News for Thursday, October 15.



1. Saban tests positive for COVID-19

  • Alabama coach Nick Saban and athletic director Greg Byrne have tested positive for COVID-19, three days before the second-ranked Crimson Tide is set to face No. 3 Georgia in a clash of Southeastern Conference and national powers.
  • Both said their tests Wednesday morning came back positive, and Saban said in a statement that he “immediately left work and isolated at home.”
  • Saban, who monitored practice Wednesday from home, said he didn’t have any symptoms as of early evening. But the second-ranked Crimson Tide will almost certainly be without the iconic 68-year-old coach on the sideline when the team plays Georgia.
  • The Southeastern Conference had to postpone two games in the last three days because of positive COVID-19 tests.
  • No. 10 Florida’s game against defending national champion LSU was postponed Wednesday to tentatively Dec. 12 after the SEC postponed Missouri-Vanderbilt on Monday.
  • The Gators started testing daily Sunday and paused activities Tuesday after 19 positives with about a dozen more quarantined through contract tracing. Athletic director Scott Stricklin said they had 18 positives among scholarship players plus three walk-ons for a total of 21.
  • Alabama played at Ole Miss last weekend, and Rebels coach Lane Kiffin said Wednesday his team had some positive tests. Saban said Alabama hasn’t “had any indication” of an outbreak within the team.
  • Saban said he and staffers — from coaches to secretaries — had done a good job of wearing masks around each other while in the football building. Asked about his No. 1 concern, Saban mentioned getting his players ready for the game, not his health.
  • Read more and watch Saban’s video announcement HERE.



2. Senate Judiciary to consider Barrett ahead of vote next week

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee is poised to take the first steps toward approving Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett following two long days of Senate testimony.
  • Over and over, Barrett said she’d be her own judge if confirmed to the Supreme Court. But she was careful not to take on the president who nominated her, and she sought to create distance between herself and past positions, writings on controversial subjects and even her late mentor.
  • Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court to take the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg seems inevitable, as even some Senate Democrats acknowledged in Senate hearings on Tuesday and Wednesday. The shift would cement a 6-3 conservative majority on the court and would be the most pronounced ideological change in 30 years, from the liberal icon to the conservative appeals court judge.
  • The 48-year-old judge skipped past Democrats’ pressing questions about ensuring the date of next month’s election or preventing voter intimidation, both set in federal law, and the peaceful transfer of presidential power. She also refused to express her view on whether the president can pardon himself. “It’s not one that I can offer a view,” she said in response to a question Wednesday from Sen. Pat Leahy of Vermont.
  • Democrats raised those questions because President Donald Trump has done so himself.
  • When it came to major issues that are likely to come before the court, including abortion and health care, she repeatedly promised to keep an open mind and said neither Trump nor anyone else in the White House had tried to influence her views.
  • “No one has elicited from me any commitment in a case,” she said.
  • Barrett’s testimony is done, but the Senate Judiciary Committee today will hear from advocates for and against her nomination before formally moving forward with the confirmation process.
  • Senators are expected to discuss the nomination but then push the committee vote on Barrett until next week, per committee rules.
  • Read more and watch the hearing for yourself HERE.



3. Reed, local leaders urge voters to approve tax referendum for schools

  • Maxwell Air Force Base could be reduced or relocated in the next round of military base realignments and closures, partly due to Montgomery’s poor public-school performance, according to city officials.
  • That’s why Mayor Steven Reed and other local leaders are encouraging voters to support a Nov. 3 referendum that would raise property taxes in Montgomery County to direct more than $33 million toward Montgomery Public Schools.
  • At a press conference on Wednesday outside of Maxwell’s Day Street gate, Reed said Montgomery’s economic success is dependent on the success of the city’s public school system.
  • “The stakes have never been higher for the community,” Reed said. “When we think about the $2.6 billion impact that Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base has on this economy and this community, it’s something that cannot be replicated.”
  • The base is the largest employer for the River Region, with about 13,000 airmen and contractors working at Maxwell and the Gunter Annex.
  • An internal military report card showed that Maxwell is ranked near the bottom of all 154 Air Force installations due to the MPS system’s poor academic performance and lack of community support in recent years.
  • Gen. Trent Edwards, the former commander of Maxwell’s 42nd Air Base Wing, voiced his support for the referendum on Wednesday and said its success was important for military families’ wellbeing.
  • “I am voting yes to help create more options for military family members, raise the investment in quality public education that benefits all of our children and supports Maxwell Air Force Base,” Edwards said.
  • As of last month, 160 MPS students were identified as being connected to the base.
  • The Nov. 3 referendum would increase property taxes in Montgomery County from 10 to 22 mills. This increase would mean an $12.75 increase for the average property owner each month, resulting in about $33 million more annually for MPS.
  • Read more from ADN’s Caroline Beck HERE.



4. Community colleges buy laptops for remote learning; Murphy to Gadsden State

  • The Alabama Community College System is buying 10,000 laptop computers as part of remote-learning efforts necessitated by the Coronavirus.
  • The Laptop Loaner Program, approved by the ACCS board on Wednesday, will be funded by federal CARES Act money,
  • The ACCS will procure laptops for 1/16th of the student population to assist low-income and other students within special populations with remote-based learning caused by the pandemic, system spokeswoman Rachel Adams told Alabama Daily News.
  • Last month, Gov. Kay Ivey said $72.3 million in the state’s about $1.9 billion federal Coronavirus Relief Fund would be used for higher educations’ remote instruction and distance learning.
  • Also on Wednesday, the ACCS board approved Kathy Murphy as the next president of Gadsden State Community College.
  • Murphy is currently the superintendent of Hoover City Schools.
  • Gadsden State includes five campuses and education centers serving Calhoun, Cherokee, Cleburne, Etowah and St. Clair counties.
  • Full story from ADN’s Mary Sell HERE.



5. News Briefs

Man breaks through Alabama TV station’s glass door with tire iron

  • MOBILE, Ala. (AP) — Police in Alabama have arrested a wig-wearing suspect accused of smashing through the glass front door of a local television station Wednesday morning.
  • A 27-year-old man allegedly used a tire iron to bust through the glass and into the front lobby of WKRG-TV’s studio in Mobile, according to police and video of the encounter recorded by the station. He was clad in a long blue wig and a mask as he climbed through the shattered door, yelling.
  • A Mobile police investigator told the station it appeared the man was under the influence of a narcotic and may have had mental health issues, WKRG reported. He suffered cuts from the glass. It did not appear that anyone at the station was injured.
  • The man was expected to face a second-degree burglary charge, according to authorities. It was not immediately clear whether he had been formally charged.

Landlord checking on open door finds 2 dead in home

  • BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A landlord checking on an open door at a house in Birmingham found two people dead inside.
  • A neighbor noticed a door that was ajar at a rental house and notified the homeowner late Tuesday, police said in a statement. That person went to check on the house and found a man and a women dead in a bedroom.
  • Both had been shot to death earlier in the day, a police spokesman said, but authorities haven’t released their names or any possible motive.
  • News outlets reported that police were investigating the slayings but didn’t immediately make any arrests.

21-year-old college student elected mayor of Alabama town

  • CAMP HILL, Ala. (AP) — The new mayor of an Alabama town faces a couple of unusual challenges: Namely, going to class and doing his homework.
  • Auburn University student Messiah Williams-Cole defeated an incumbent to be elected mayor of Camp Hill, Alabama, last week. Besides operating the town of about 950 people, he’s getting ready to graduate next May with a degree in interdisciplinary studies.
  • The 21-year-old led Mayor Ezell Woodyard-Smith by a margin of 259-156 in last Tuesday’s runoff election. The mayor-elect tells news outlets he’s excited more than anything and also a little overwhelmed to win the position.
  • Williams-Cole sought the mayorship after losing a bid for the Camp Hill City Council last year. Williams-Cole is a Camp Hill native, and he says he’ll work out a detailed scheduled to allow him to both complete his classwork and serve as mayor.
  • Williams-Cole assumes office for a four-year term Nov. 2. The town of Camp Hill is about 20 miles northwest of Auburn.

Florence takes step to move Confederate monument

  • FLORENCE, Ala. (AP) — An Alabama city has taken a step toward removing a Confederate monument following weeks of pressure.
  • The Florence City Council voted Tuesday to ask the state for permission to move the memorial from outside the Lauderdale County Courthouse, WHNT-TV reported. Other places have sought similar state waivers, which are required because of a law that imposes a $25,000 fine for disturbing such memorials.
  • The city also asked county commissioners to relocate the monument as soon as possible.
  • All council members and the mayor have publicly supported removing the monument, but they don’t expect to receive approval from the state.
  • “We don’t anticipate a response but it’s the last step we can take,” council member Michelle Eubanks said, according to the TimesDaily.
  • Mayor Steve Holt has said the city has a commitment from local business owners to pay the fine and cost of moving it.
  • Dedicated in 1903 during a ceremony that included an overtly racist speech, the memorial was erected by Confederate descendants. It went up at a time many whites were advocating the “lost cause” version of history that played down slavery as a cause for the Civil War and emphasized the nobility of Confederate fighters.
  • Demonstrators organized by a racial justice group, Project Say Something, have been protesting the monument for weeks during a national reckoning over race that followed the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
  • The monument, which features a Confederate statue atop a stone pedestal, would be moved to the Florence City Cemetery.




ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Barrett keeps Democrats, Trump at bay in Senate hearing


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Nick Saban, Alabama AD Greg Byrne test positive for COVID-19


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Reed, local leaders urge voters to approve tax referendum for schools


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Community colleges buy laptops for remote learning; Murphy to Gadsden State


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Barrett bats away tough Democratic confirmation probing


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Poll shows current prison building plan has low approval


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Court keeps absentee ballot rules, allows curbside voting


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – More Alabama students returning to classroom


ALABAMA DAILY NEWS – Daily News Digest – October 14, 2020


AL.COM – Mauled: When police dogs are weapons – She Went Out For A Walk. Then Drogo The Police Dog Charged


AL.COM – Doug Jones ‘flattered’ over Attorney General speculation, but remains focused on Senate run


AL.COM – Montgomery teachers call in sick to protest conditions as students return


AL.COM – Toyota expansion bearing fruit in Huntsville: 150 jobs available


AL.COM – Columnist Kyle Whitmire: What did Tommy Tuberville know? When do we get to know it?


AL.COM – DeKalb County loves Tommy Tuberville


AL.COM – Columnist Roy Johnson: Now, Birmingham library system must create evolution it ‘should have embraced 10 years ago’


Montgomery Advertiser – U.S. Marshals looking for inmate who escaped from custody a month ago


Montgomery Advertiser – Doug Jones criticizes Tommy Tuberville over charity, hedge fund


Montgomery Advertiser – Montgomery city, county promote property tax


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – City of Alabaster investing thousands into crime-fighting technology


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Shooting death under investigation in St. Clair Co.


WBRC Fox 6 Birmingham – Alabama’s Secretary of State reacts to long voting lines in other states


Tuscaloosa News – Teen charged with attempted murder in recent Alpine Hills shooting


Tuscaloosa News – Fans relieved for football’s return to quieter Bryant-Denny Stadium


Tuscaloosa News – Conviction upheld in reckless murder of Hillcrest High School student


Decatur Daily – $51.5 million investment planned for Athens facility


Decatur Daily – Utility: High-speed internet coming in early January


Decatur Daily – Orr: Time to revisit licensing requirements on small, in-home child care providers


Times Daily – Council resolutions seek OK for moving monument


Times Daily – Federal grant money will help improve three Colbert bridges


Times Daily – Florence Sportsplex reopens to leagues


Anniston Star – Heflin man indicted in 2008 sex abuse case


Anniston Star – Prescription Drug Take Back drive-thru planned for Oct. 24


Anniston Star – Alabama’s Saban on positive COVID-19 test: ‘I feel fine’


YellowHammer News – Nine additional counties struck by Hurricane Sally now eligible for financial assistance from FEMA


YellowHammer News – SEC’s Greg Sankey reacts to Saban positive COVID test, emphasizes continued vigilance


YellowHammer News – Nick Saban tests positive for COVID-19, currently asymptomatic


Gadsden Times – Gadsden Public Library invites visitors to remember loved ones with stones in its Sacred Garden


Gadsden Times – Attalla City School Board to meet Thursday


Gadsden Times – John S. Jones Elementary School is 2020 Blue Ribbon School


Dothan Eagle – Dueling town halls for Trump, Biden after debate plan nixed


Dothan Eagle – Close congressional race in southern New Mexico draws eyes


Dothan Eagle – Company behind SKorean hit band BTS soar in trading debut


Opelika-Auburn News – EAMC hospitalizations highest in two months; AU sees early flu cases


Opelika-Auburn News – Opelika police seeking assistance in identifying burglary suspects


Opelika-Auburn News – Auburn University reports the lowest number of new COVID-19 cases in single week


WSFA Montgomery – Nursing homes begin allowing in-person visits with new COVID-19 guidelines


WSFA Montgomery – Man critically injured in Wednesday night Montgomery shooting


WSFA Montgomery – EJI Legacy Museum reopening with new exhibits, COVID-19 safeguards


WAFF Huntsville – UPDATE: One person killed in fire at Industrial Park in Florence


WAFF Huntsville – Trader Joe’s coming to Huntsville; goal by end of 2021


WAFF Huntsville – Local experts talk about why your grocery bill is high, and when you can expect it to drop


WKRG Mobile – Lawmakers push for COVID-19 relief before Election Day


WKRG Mobile – Person with jet pack spotted 6,000 feet in air near Los Angeles airport – 2nd sighting in 6 weeks


WKRG Mobile – Dad dancing in hospital parking lot brings joy to son fighting cancer


WTVY Dothan – Home intruder shot in Kinsey Sunday morning dies


WTVY Dothan – League of Women Voters of Southeast Alabama provides free rides for voters


WTVY Dothan – ESCC mechatronics program receives recognition


WASHINGTON POST – To Democrats’ frustration, GOP predicts clear sailing as Barrett testimony ends


WASHINGTON POST – Across the country, Democratic enthusiasm is propelling an enormous wave of early voting


WASHINGTON POST – Biden, Democrats raise record-busting $383 million in September as Trump seeks to shore up support in Iowa


NEW YORK TIMES – As Virus Spread, Reports of Trump Administration’s Private Briefings Fueled Sell-Off


NEW YORK TIMES – Covid-19 Live Updates: Europe, Which Thought It Had the Virus Tamed, Faces a Resurgence


NEW YORK TIMES – What to Watch For in the Final Day of Amy Coney Barrett’s Hearing


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Stock Futures Drop on Rising Covid-19, Economic Risks


WALL STREET JOURNAL – U.S. Moves to Protect Technologies Considered Critical to National Security


WALL STREET JOURNAL – Unemployment Claims Expected to Hold at High Levels


Front Pages (images link to newspaper websites, which you should visit and patronize)


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