Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Thursday's Star, afternoon update

The afternoon update following The Star's newsroom planning meeting.

Brian Lyman reports that state Senate candidate for District 13 Gerald Dial has spent $445,000 in the last three weeks. He has more in tomorrow's story.

Want to be county coroner in Alabama? Until recently, all it took was to have managed to live to see one's 18th birthday. Andy Johns has the story of how that will soon change.

Sherry Kughn writes an ode to the bookmobile.
I was a shy child during the 1950s. I did not want to perform with my red accordion at the school’s talent show, but Mother made me. I tried out only once for cheerleader because of fear. I was never chosen for a singing part in the school’s musical, like some of my friends. There was one area, though, where I shined — in the world of books and words, which once led to an unforgettable day when the bookmobile visited.

The Star's editorial page continues its recommendations ahead of Tuesday's primary vote. Tomorrow it's the race for governor.

Tuesday's top online reads

A trio of law-and-order stories were the most popular news stories at Tuesday:

1. More charges filed against men arrested in local weapons thefts

2. Local house fire reportedly arson

3. Authorities crack down on seatbelt scofflaws

Thursday's Star

Stories we're working on for Thursday's newspaper:

Brian Lyman writes about the amount of money being spent in the Gerald Dial-Kim Benefield race to represent District 13 in the state Senate.

Matt Kasper examines the local trend where more parents are putting their children into private schools.

Steve Ivey and Todd South are looking at this weekend's huge motorcycle event, the HOG Rally.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Wednesday's Star, afternoon update

Not a lot to update from this morning's meeting.

Your Table will feature favorite homeade ice cream recipes.

In Sports, Al Muskewitz will take a look at JSU's preparations for Friday's NCAA regional baseball game with Alabama.

In Brian Lyman's story on the gay marriage amendment, John Giles, head of the Alabama Christian Coalition, says of his group's activism on the issue:
"The quickest way to find yourself in trouble is to be complacent on any issue. We are passionate about all our issues. We give every effort, 110 percent."

Top online views

With the primary election a week away, politics is top of mind among The Star's online readers. With one exception the most-read news and opinion items Sunday were political.

The lone exception was Ben Cunningham's report on the future of the Music at McClellan concert series.

The political items include: Letters to the editor endorsing candidates, George Smith's complaint on campaign signs and the Insight section's candidate Q&A.

Wednesday's Star

Here a few stories we're working on for Tuesday's paper:

Brian Lyman is examining the implications of next Tuesday's gay marriage amendment.

Matt Kasper looks into a shortage of church organists. We're told the pool of people who can play a full-blown pipe organ is shrinking.

The Alabama chapter of the National Association of Social Workers has named Maudine Holloway as its Public Citizen of the Year. She is executive director of Anniston's Community Enabler Developer.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Sunday's Star

Here's an early look at the stories for Sunday's newspaper:

With Music at McClellan starting this weekend, Ben Cunningham takes a look at the future of the concert series now in its third season.

Brian Lyman checks out other races for governor in Southern states. Ferrel Guillory, director of the Program on Southern Politics, Media and Public Life at the University of North Carolina, tells Brian:
"Governors' offices tend to be less ideological, or they have been less ideological than national offices. That doesn’t mean something like gay rights, the death penalty and other issues like that don’t land in the governor’s office from time to time, but the governor's main function is to get the budget together, keep the schools running, pave the roads and keep government functioning."

Candidates for local office offer their views in the Insight section.

Your Life presents the results of our comics survey.

And George Smith's column begins:
We let them get away with it.
It puts the lie to Alabama the Beautiful.
We let them get way with it.
It's against the law.

You'll have to wait until tomorrow to see how it finishes.

Exclusive interview

Coming on Monday to the editorial page ... we have an exclusive interview with Thomas Jefferson, the country's third president.

As you might expect, he has quite a few interesting things to say about liberty and security.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Wednesday's online traffic

Top news stories at

1. Dan Whisenhunt's account of Anniston's smoking ban.

2. Using the Avondale Mills closings announcement, Crystal Jarvis wrote on how local former (non-Avondale) mill workers are coping.
Here's a sample from Roland Cronan, 83, who worked for decades at the now-shuttered Standard Coosa Thatcher mill in Piedmont:
"We used to sit there on a swing and listen to that cotton mill run, and it would put you to sleep. Now when you sit out here — it’s just quiet."

Friday's Star, afternoon update

Having completed our afternoon planning meeting, here are some stories we're working on for the Friday edition.

The AmSouth-Regions merger is the topic of two local stories, one examining the status of banking in Calhoun County and the other on what happens to the AmSouth and Regions local branches.
Todd South reports:
Anniston Regions Bank President Greg Smith said it was very premature to speculate on closings. "At this stage in the merger nobody knows," he said. "I don't think the people negotiating this deal have got to the point of deciding which branches to close, if any."

The Anniston-Calhoun County Public Library will soon get a new bookmobile.

Meanwhile, the Calhoun County Commission, meeting this morning, decided to follow Oxford and Anniston's lead and adopt the sales tax holiday.

This evening, the Anniston school board will meet to discuss several issues, perhaps this and this.

Business will examine the larger implications of the Enron verdict.

We'll report on a story with worldwide implications:
Rivers of air that move both storms and airplanes around the planet have been creeping poleward over the past 26 years. The migration of these so-called "jet streams" has widened the planet's tropical belt and could expand dry regions around the world in coming decades, a new study reports.

On the OpEd page, Molly Ivins offers her views on the president's border plans and other topics:
Naturally, in Texas, National Laboratory for Bad Government, we do it all first and worst. We started with this dandy plan to outsource applications and enrollment for social service programs such as food stamps and Medicaid. In theory, we were to save millions -- though I never could understand it myself. You see, Texas has one of the cheapest state governments on the continent, but when we hire outside contractors, they expect to make a profit. Add profit, add cost. Oh well.

On the Editorial Page, Hardy Jackson's Editorial Notebook considers duties and responsibilities of the public and private sectors along the coast.

Friday's Star

Here are some stories we're working on for the Friday edition.

Following up on the merger announcement between AmSouth and Regions banks, we're looking at the local impact. How many banks are in Calhoun County? What will happen to the AmSouth and Regions branches with the pending merger?

The Anniston-Calhoun County Public Library will soon get a new bookmobile.

Meanwhile, the Calhoun County Commission is meeting this morning.

Later, the Anniston school board will meet to discuss last week's fire at the high school.

Election Day nears

Have you registered?

Don't forget that Friday is the last day to register to vote if you intend to cast a ballot in the June 6 primary.

Following up on today's report on how to register to vote, here are a few other helpful online spots.

Want to know who represents you in the statehouse? Go here.

Want to see a Republican sample ballot for Calhoun County? Go here.

Want to see a Democratic sample ballot for Calhoun County? Go here.

Another voting-related site is the Alabama secretary of state's.

The local election board's online presence leaves something to be desired. Better to call 256-241-2930 or visit its offices at 1702 Noble Street, Suite 113 in Anniston.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Thursday's Star, the afternoon update

Following the afternoon planning meeting, here's an update of the stories we're working on for Thursday's newspaper:

1. The Anniston school board meets tomorrow. The board is said to be preparing a letter to send to the state proposing a review of safety and expulsion procedures.

2. A dedication at Leavenworth, Kan., for Maj. Dwayne Williams, a man with local ties was killed in the 9/11 attacks, is set for tomorrow.

3. A day ahead of the May 26 deadline, The Star offers a guide on how to register to vote. The primary is June 6.

4. Gov. Bob Riley and Attorney General Troy King will speak at local graduation ceremonies in coming days. How did these Faith Christian High School in Anniston, where Riley speaks Thursday, and Trinity Christian Academy in Oxford, where King speaks Sunday, get such high-profile guests? Turns out they just asked.

5. Todd South writes about the state Senate race for District 11 between challenger Larry Barton and incumbent Jim Preuitt. It's one of the most fierce campaigns in this region.

6. Finally, don't miss tomorrow's George Smith column. He's got the latest on this season's Chilton County peaches and quite a story of the men who bring them to us.

ON UPDATE FROM THIS MORNING'S REPORT: The Andy Johns' profile of Jim Robinson, the newest federal bankruptcy judge for the Eastern Division of Alabama's Northern District, is on hold because of a heavy news run.

Thursday's Star

Stories we're working on for Thursday's newspaper:

1. A dedication at Leavenworth, Kan., for Maj. Dwayne Williams, a man with local ties was killed in the 9/11 attacks, is set for today.

2. A profile by Andy Johns of Jim Robinson, the newest federal bankruptcy judge for the Eastern Division of Alabama’s Northern District.

3. A day ahead of the May 26 deadline, The Star offers a guide on how to register to vote. The primary is June 6.

Tuesday's online traffic

The most popular news stories on for Tuesday were:

1. Matt Kasper's examination of American Idol buzz in Calhoun County.

2. Steve Ivey's Oregon lawmaker’s attempt to ban poison made in Oxford could stall also had a large online following.

FYI: A Sunday Insight column by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., which originally appeared in The Washington Post, coninues to generate a lot of traffic.

Out-of-towners and obits

An e-mailer from Virginia complained last week that he wanted to read an obituary but couldn't because The Star's online content isn't free. He desired to visit the site one time to read the death announcement of a friend. (We certainly hope his one visit will entice him to stick around and purchase an online subscription.)

What he wanted, at least initially, was a day pass, which allows a visitor a 24-hour free trial of For those in a similar spot, the link is here.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Wednesday's Star, afternoon update

Following up on this morning's report, here are some of the stories we're working on for tomorrow's edition.

1. Crystal Jarvis follows on the news of Avondale Mills closings across the Southeast. She and photographer Bill Wilson visited with former mill workers in Piedmont and Blue Mountain, two local communities that have seen their mills (not Avondale) closed in recent years.

2. Stephen Gross has an amazing series of photos showing the progress on the Eastern Parkway.

3. In Anniston, Dan Whisenhunt will attend tonight's City Council meeting, where an anti-smoking ordinance is up for a vote.

4. Look for a story examining how three Calhoun County cities are handling the state's new back-to-school sales tax holiday. Both Anniston and Oxford will take up the matter tonight.

5. Nationally, the Senate is said to be inching closer to passing a bill on immigration.

Online traffic, Monday

Monday's best-read story online was Ben Cunningham's account of a car that paid an unexpected visit to an Anniston church on Sunday.

Following closely behind was an OpEd column by Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., on President Bush and impeachment.

Wednesday's paper

Per our morning planning meeting, here are some of the stories The Star is working on for tomorrow's paper:

Star reporter Crystal Jarvis has her sites on story related to the Georgia-based Avondale Mills announcement yesterday that it is shutting down operations across three Southern states. That's bad news for 4,000 employees who will lose their jobs. Jarvis is seeing what lessons residents of a Calhoun County's former mill towns can offer the newly unemployed in Sylacauga, Alexander City, Pell City, Rockford and other towns where Avondale had operations.

Dan Whisenhunt is preparing to cover tonight's Anniston City Council meeting. Expect a smoking ban and a sales tax holiday to be on the agenda.

In Oxford, Steve Ivey will cover the City Council's ongoing discussions regarding the sales tax holiday.

Your Table
The section will examine packing for picnics.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Tuesday's Star, afternoon update

An update from this morning's report.

Other stories likely to run tomorrow:
1. An Oregon congressman is continuing his push to ban a poisonous substance made in Oxford by Tull Chemical Co. "It’s gone into legislative limbo," says Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.

2. A U.S.-led airtrike is said to have killed 80 Taliban fighters and 17 civilians.

3. The AP reports:
Thieves took sensitive personal information on 26.5 million U.S. veterans, including Social Security numbers and birth dates, after a Veterans Affairs employee improperly brought the material home, the government said Monday

Tuesday's Star

Here are some of the stories The Star is working for Tuesday's paper:

1. Jacksonville City Council will likely discuss a proposed Internet gaming business, a new housing development and its senior center.

2. Hobson City is discussing uses for the (soon to be old) C.E. Hanna school.

3. We're looking at the local buzz for American Idol as the competition narrows down to two.

FYI: The best read story online from Sunday's paper was Brian Lyman's examination of Alabama's 3rd congressional district.