Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Coming Thursday in The Star

Check out Thursday's Star for these stories:

Todd South went along with morning trash pickup in Hobson City. The city couldn't pay its sanitation workers, so for a few weeks now a town councilman and Concerned Citizens of Hobson City have been hauling trash on Wednesdays.

Anniston police have arrested a suspect in the weekend shooting death. Nick Cenegy covers this story.

Markeshia Ricks speaks with local delegates on the final day of the 2007 Silver Haired Legislature. The group met in Montgomery this week and came up with an agenda they say real lawmakers should address for older Alabamians.

Dan Whisenhunt profiles Sam Jones, recently retired head of the Anniston Housing Authority.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

New music poll

The Star's music blog, Anniston Off The Record, has loaded this week's music poll.

Go to and vote.

All Oxford, all the time -- this week, at least

You want more on the Oxford/ineligible player story, the hottest story of the week? We've got it in Speak Out on Wednesday, which is crammed with letters to the editor about the Yellow Jackets.

And more letters will come later this week, I'm sure.

Coming Wednesday on the editorial/op-ed pages

The Star's editorial board is taking a look at the approved textbook for Bible literacy classes in Alabama public schools -- and how much pressure may be put on the board to approve a text that meets certain religious criteria:
All textbook publishers edit their products’ content to meet market demands. But if publishers also edit to conform to a particular theological perspective, they are going beyond what marketing requires and moving into the area where church and state should not mix.
The Star also is lamenting the fact that a majority of our delegation has not signed on to support the Clean Water Resoration Act:
This dismal showing of support from one of the most biologically diverse states is understandable when you consider how much industry despises this legislation and how much power Alabama’s business lobby wields. Most developers, for example, do not want to be constrained by wetlands regulations.
Meanwhile, on the op-ed page, we have columnist Hardy Jackson's Wednesday offering and a neat look at Hillary Clinton and Halloween costumes. Really, we do.

Wednesday's Star

Coming Wednesday in The Anniston Star:

Just in time for Halloween, Matt Kasper writes a story about how parenets can monitor candy intake for a healthy holiday.

Dan Whisenhunt looks at the process of finding a new CEO for the JPA. How have other former bases dealt with this?

The Southeast Water Alliance and some local officials held an "educational session" in Montgomery to counter Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue's claims that Alabama did little or nothing to prepare for the drought. Markeshia Ricks reports on this story.

ADEM is fining the incinerator in Anniston nearly $50,000 for a series of monitoring and disposal violations from mid-2006 through Julyo, 2007. Todd South looks at this story.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Coming Tuesday in The Star

Check out Tuesday's Anniston Star for these stories:

We have a special section on the ruling on the ineligible football player at Oxford with full coverage of the decision, a look at Oxford's season, the results, the town's reactions and an explainer on what the rules say.

Property owners have withdrawn their request to rezone land that had been rumored as the location of a Publix grocery in Anniston. Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

The state Health Department held a news conference today to discuss its plan to deal with a potential staph-infection outbreak. Markeshia Ricks reports on the plan.

Steve Ivey covers the case of the missing pumpkin at Alexandria Elementary School.

Friday, October 26, 2007

This weekend's Star

Coming this weekend in The Anniston Star:

On Saturday:

Gov. Bob Riley met with federal officials to talk about water issues and the state's negotiations with Georgia and Florida over sharing water resources in advance of a meeting of teh three state's governors in D.C. next week. Markeshia Ricks has this story.

More water news: Andy Johns speaks with a Weaver man who has to haul water from a mile or so away since the well on his property dried up. How is the drought affecting the water supply of families on wells?

On Sunday:
Matt Kasper writes about dry counties and wet counties and those that are in between. It's been nearly 75 years since the national ban on alcohol sales was repealed, but some Alabama counties are still dry, by law. Other parts of the state have seen dramatic changes in attitudes toward alcohol.

Knight Fellow Jennifer Cox has a story on efforts to increase parent participation in the schools in Anniston.

Nick Cenegy covers Hobson City's Fall Festival, a fundraiser for the town being put on by Concerned Citizens of Hobson City.

Americorps, LINC and other groups are helping to clean up Norwood Homes this weekend as part of "Make a Difference Day."

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Coming Friday in The Star

Check out the following stories in Friday's Anniston Star:

Great pumpkins....So who grows and sells all those pumpkins people buy around Halloween? What are they used for the rest of the year? Todd South dives into the pumpkin patch for this story.

Andy Johns actually sacrificed his own arm for a photo of a mosquito feasting on a human for this story. There's good news and bad news: Experts say that the drought will help cut down certain mosquito populations, but other kinds of the blood thirsty bugs have been laying eggs by ponds all summer and at the first big rain they will all hatch.

Nick Cenegy looks at local law enforcement agencies' accident policies. What happens when a law enforcement officer wrecks his or her vehicle?

Andy Johns stopped by the Anniston Alive festival on Noble Street Thursday night and has a report from there.

Open Mouth Insert Foot

Early this morning I attended the grand opening ceremony of the new Lowes at McClellan. Anniston Mayor Chip Howell, city and county representatives and others showed up for the event. After the ceremonial cutting of the ribbon, which was actually the Mayor sawing a 2x4 in half, we all entered the store to get warmed up and have a look around. Mayor Howell and I were strolling down an aisle talking about how nice it is to have the store here. We were just making small talk.

And then I said "Now, I'm gonna have to figure out which is more convenient for me from my home on Highland, this store or pop over the mountain to the store in...." I stopped mid-sentence. I dared not speak the word. I sheepishly glanced over to the Mayor. He had a big grin on his face as he said, while pointing his finger emphatically at the ground, "This store Kevin, this store."

Note to self: Don't make small talk to VIP's early in the morning before having the first cup of joe to get the brain started.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Coming Thursday in The Star

Check out these stories in Thursday's Anniston Star:

A decision is anticipated in the allegations of an ineligible football player at Oxford High School.

Todd South has a story on chickens running around in Oxford on Pace Street. Are they grandfathered in or not? It's one of those things a growing city has to deal with.

It's Alcohol Awareness Week at JSU. Matt Kasper visits campus for some awareness programs.

Homebuilders are forming a task force to deal with copper thefts. Nick Cenegy writes about their efforts.

2009 could be a tight funding year for Alabama schools and colleges. Markeshia Ricks explores the funding and expected cutbacks.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Coming Wednesday in The Star

Check out these stories in the Wednesday edition of The Anniston Star:

It actually rained Tuesday. Andy Johns writes about the weather, including some storms that knocked down trees throughout the state. Did we get enough rain to make a difference?

The handheld calculator turns 40. Steve Ivey talks with teachers about how having them in the classroom affects students' math skills.

The Oxford and Anniston City Councils meet.

Markeshia follows up on efforts to strengthen the state's DUI laws.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Coming Tuesday in The Star

Coming Tuesday in The Anniston Star:

Two stories on the allegations of Oxford fielding an ineligible football player. Todd South talks with residents - what effect has the possibility of a reversal from a 8-0 record to a 1-7 one had in town? And sports writer Nick Birdsong follows up the on the sports side.

Markeshia Ricks writes about the upcoming execution of Daniel Lee Siebert. Gov. Bob Riley anounced the state will proceed as scheduled Thursday with the execution. Siebert was convicted in the killings of at least five people in a murder spree that may have included as many as 10 victims across the country. He was sentenced to death for killing a Talladega woman and her two sons.

Matt Kasper writes about the planned 2008 Jacksonville High School addition.

Andy Johns writes about Calhoun County's stiffening water restrictions as the drought continues.

And meeting coverage from Hobson City, Lincoln, Jacksonville and Piedmont councils.

Friday, October 19, 2007

This weekend in The Anniston Star

Coming this weekend in The Anniston Star:

On Saturday, Steve Ivey has a story on the low numbers of male teachers nationawide. The numbers are at a 40-year low. He talked with some local teachers and officials about why and what it might mean.

Andy Johns highlights the fourth-graders visit to Janney Furnace. The story is accompanied by an online slideshow.

Todd South has a followup on the discipline of Oxford Middle School students.

On Sunday: Markeshia Ricks talks with local legislators who are also business owners about the challenges of enforcing employment laws in relation to illegal immigrants in the workplace.

Matt Kasper highlights the health benefits of garlic. A new study shows that garlic consumption can reduce blood pressure.

Todd South looks at the step by step process to form a union in light of recent interest among Honda employees in organizing. How does a union election happen?

On Monday: Dan Whisenhunt checks in with Anniston Housing Authority residents about what they would like to see in the future.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Grow a beard, be a reporter for The Star

You never know what you'll happen across when you walk through The Star's newsroom.

I did Wednesday, and I happened upon a conversation in the Features department about beards. Seems Brett Buckner, our features writer, has been assigned a story on facial hair -- how to grow it, trim it, make it look good. (Especially if you're a man.)

Quickly, a conversation from a bunch of Star employees -- some bearded, others clean-shaven -- kicked up. Which styles are better? How long does it take to grow yours? Who can grow a muttonchop? Or would want to?

It was a lot more fun than the same ol' boring journalism stuff.

Oh, and I found out the growth that's been on my face for a decade isn't a goatee. It's a circle beard, whatever that is.

That just doesn't sound as sexy. I'm still gonna call it a goatee.

Coming Thursday on the editorial/op-ed pages

The Star's editorial board is taking a look at the plight of Social Security, now that the baby boomers are coming of age:
It’s one thing to tell Americans who just now are entering the work force that the government can’t help them with retirement. And it’s entirely another to tell the 80 million baby boomers who’ve funded Social Security for decades that they may get little in return.
The Star also is commenting on what local animal-control officials are calling an issue that's getting significantly worse -- the problem of stray dogs and cats:
In the end, much of this issue boils down to pet owners’ decisions. Do they have their pet spayed or neutered? Do they have it properly trained? Do they ensure that it doesn’t run free in the streets? What do they consider responsible pet ownership?
And, finally, we're opining on the Clean Water Restoration Act and the need for Alabama's delegation to help its passage:
Perhaps Rep. Bud Cramer, D-Huntsville, could be made to understand the importance of a clean and healthy Tennessee River, since he represents that part of the state. Perhaps his colleague Artur Davis, D-Birmingham, could be made to understand the importance of a clean and healthy Alabama River, since that river slices through his district.
As usual, we'll have a large letters to the editor package and reader-friendly op-ed page.

Thursday in The Anniston Star

Check out Thursday's Anniston Star for these stories:

Members of the old industrial fastpitch softball league, now in their 70s and 80s, gathered for their first reunion in decades. Steve Ivey was there to hear some of the stories from the days when pipefitters and textile workers were some of the county's sports heroes.

Markeshia Ricks attended a meeting of a joint commission on women, girls and prison established by Anniston's representative, Barbara Boyd. What she learned was that Calhoun and Talladega counties are among the leaders in numbers of women sent to state prisons.

One of the men indicted in the murders of two Alexandria grandparents several years ago is likely to be released on probation. Two other men charged were convicted of capital murder. Nick Cenegy examines this story.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wednesday's Star

Coming Wednesday in The Anniston Star:

Depot officials say they see no evidence that a rope found two weeks ago hanging from a utility pole was a noose intended to send a racist message. It resembled, they say, rope lengths used to tie down tarps on M1 tanks arriving for repair. Todd South has this followup.

Nick Cenegy writes about a haunted house in Oxford that was the scene of a murder in the early 80s.

The JPA met tonight. Dan Whisenhunt covers the meeting.

Andy Johns writes about what was going on at the Business Expo Tuesday.

Hardy's on a roll -- but don't drink the coffee!

This isn't a joke.

You've gotta read Star columnist Hardy Jackson's column on Wednesday. In it, he mentions this collection of odd, weird and unrelated topics:

- Nudie bars in Alabama.
- Coffee made from civet-cat droppings in Australia.
- Exposed flesh.
- Plans to use chemicals to turn enemy soldiers into homosexuals.

And it all makes sense.

I promise.

Coming Wednesday on the editorial/op-ed pages

The Star's editorial board is examining Thursday's vote on the SCHIP veto of President Bush -- and whether Rep. Mike Rogers will break GOP rank or stay with his party's stance:
For President Bush, it’s too late. He has established himself in history as the man who championed the health-care industry at the expense of American families. Rep. Mike Rogers can still do the right thing and fight for our children and working families.
He can vote to override Bush’s veto.
We're also weighing in on what sadly is looking like the possibility of another contentious legislative session in Montgomery:
Some speculate that what the Republicans hope to gain is popular outrage and frustration with the Democrat-controlled Legislature. If that is the goal, the GOP needs to remember this. Although the Democrats are in the majority, they do not control the Legislature. The Senate is controlled by a Republican minority and a few disgruntled Democrats. And it will be against those folks that public frustration will be directed.
As usual, we'll have our usual fare of letters to the editor -- the folks in Oxford are stirred up today -- and columns on our op-ed page.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Coming Tuesday on the editorial page

The Star's editorial board is taking a look at teen pregnancy in Alabama -- which is on the rise -- and what can be done to replicate the success our state had with this issue a decade ago.
Back in the 1990s, the state and the nation did something right. Maybe it was better sex education and instruction in the ways births can be controlled. Maybe it was more effective abstinence-only education. Maybe it was a combination of these and other ways to get the message to teens. We need to know what it was.
The Star also is examining the social and national implications of the acquittal of defendants charged with beating a black student in Panama City, Fla.
The jury could have found the drill instructors and the nurse guilty of charges ranging from manslaughter to negligence. Instead, the jury chose to acquit all of the defendants.
If all of the South now begins to hear the familiar criticisms of racial injustice, it will be no wonder. We have a lot of familiar elements here.
We'll also have Eugene Robinson's Tuesday column and several letters to the editor.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Thursday's Star

Coming Thursday in The Anniston Star:

As Munford grows, it may have outgrown its stadium that has seen residents cheering on many a Lions football game. Folks are working to raise money for a new field, closer to the new high school on the other side of town, but many feel tied to the old stadium.

Andy Johns looks at e-mail and mail scams. He talks to psychologists and police officers to see why people fall for scams that seem so obvious.

Todd South writes about the gathering of residents at a Hobson City church to brainstorm ways to bail out the struggling town.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thursday in The Star

Coming Thursday in The Anniston Star:

Both Jacksonville and Clay County are dealing with depleted water supplies because of the drought. We have two stories about the challenges they are facing.

Steve Ivey writes about Fruithurst Elemtary School which has some of the best test scores in the state, despite being a small rural community with three-fourths of its students on free or reduced lunch. Locals and experts say the school's small size may be helping them.

Markeshia Ricks follows up on the Wednesday meeting of the Joint Interim Patriotic Immigration Commission. Commission members heard from public health, education and law enforcement leaders about challenges they face in dealing with a growing population of immigrants. The common theme: They all need more money or more power to do what they think needs doing.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Wednesday's Star

Check out Wednesday's Anniston Star for these stories:

The Chief Ladiga is complete from Anniston to Georgia. Are folks from Atlanta going to start pedaling our way? Matt Kasper has the story.

Alabama is third in the nation for fire-related deaths. Markeshia Ricks looks at this ranking and talks with local fire chiefs about fire safety.

Longsleeves weatherwatch: Andy Johns has a story about the upcoming cool temperatures headed our way. They're expected to blow in by the weekend.

George Smith profiles a 100-year-old woman who lives in Oxford.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Tuesday in The Star

Check out Tuesday's Star for these stories:

Bill Edwards writes about the announcement of a partnership between the Sarrell Dental Clinic and UAB to operate a similar clinic in Bessemer. Is the Anniston clinic becoming a model to provide dental care to low-income kids?

Markeshia Ricks has a story about efforts from the governor's office to assist returning veterans with disabilities. Operation Grateful Heart will cooperate with the Birmingham-based Lakeshore Foundation to provide soldiers with disabilities access to the kind of opportunities they need to overcome their injuries.

Steve Ivey has an advance on the domestic violence vigil to be held at JSU Tuesday night from 4 to 7 p.m. in front of the Theron Montgomery Building.

Greatest SEC games, a personal memory

An update from last week's greatest SEC games post.

Publisher H. Brandt Ayers offers this memory from an SEC game:

It seemed odd not having Dad there for the Tide’s opening game in 1964, but I was grateful for the tactic he had found for avoiding the parking problem at Legion Field. His membership in the Mountain Brook club offered a good lunch and a bus ride to the stadium. The club had another advantage; it was accessible to two-lane U.S. 78 without going through downtown Birmingham.
But it wasn’t the same without him. I can see him now in the long tan overcoat and the battered hat, which framed a slender face and prominent nose, a relic of the game before modern protective headgear became a requirement. He had played for Jacksonville Normal School (now Jacksonville State University.)
Leaving him behind was a regrettable necessity. A stroke that summer had leveled him.
Joe Namath was still healthy. It wasn’t until the North Carolina State game that he injured his knee rolling out without anyone touching him, an inexplicable injury that dogged his college and professional career. But on this unusually cool and cloudy afternoon, Namath and the Tide totally outclassed Georgia, 31 to 3. Namath was everywhere, a quarterback with a rocket arm who could also run. Once or twice, he reminded me of a legend, Harry Gilmer, No. 52, the All-American halfback in the late 1940s who threw long spirals from the apex of astounding leaps.
Dad had taken me, along with the grown-ups, to see Gilmer play. For a little boy, being invited to join the men for the game was like a Protestant Bar Mitzvah. Now it was another generation leaping and winning for the Tide. It would have been fun to recall and compare those two with Dad, but he had not spoken for weeks.
When I got back to Anniston dusk was gathering. Before going home I went to Stringfellow Hospital to see Dad. I leaned down over his bed and took his warm hand. “Dad, we whipped hell out of Georgia,” I said.
He squeezed my hand.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Chick lit to peck ... pick

In Sunday's Bookshelf I review two "chick lit" books. Both are the first forays into adult writing by authors who have gained attention for their books for teens. One of the authors is Ann Brashares, of Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants fame. The other is Shannon Hale, who was recognized with a Newbery Honor a few years back for her strong-heroine book The Princess Academy. The new books are The Last Summer (of You & Me) and Austenland. Last Summer is a tale of three dear friends who have grown up together, two sisters and their male neighbor, during their summers on Fire Island off of New York. It's engrossing, entertaining, and frankly irresistible for chick readers. Austenland is about a 30-something single gal who has a bit of an obsession -- fantasy -- secret longing -- for Mr. Darcy. If only he really existed! She gets a reality check when her late aunt bequeaths her a three-week vacation at an estate in England that meticulously re-creates Austen's Regency times. What a fun premise for those of us who enjoy the Austen books and eagerly lap up any new movies made from them.
Our other novel (non-chicky, though) is Death of a Murderer, reviewed by Judy McKibbin, about a notorious murderess who dies in prison and the police officer who is assigned to guard her corpse one night before it is taken away for burial. The officer has a lot of time to ponder on his life and how it's going. This is one that just has to be read.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Coming Sunday in Insight

Make sure you see Sunday's Insight section for a special look at Alabama Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb.

Coming Saturday on the editorial page

The Star's editorial board is a big fan of the NASCAR races at Talladega Superspeedway -- proud that they're in our part of the state, at least -- and is tackling the issue of Calhoun Countians who aren't fans of the races.
You tire of the traffic. You hate the interminable waits at the overcrowded restaurants in Oxford. Got a bunch of family and friends coming in town this weekend who need hotel rooms? Forgetaboutit. And you despise the fact that you seemingly can’t go anywhere on Interstate 20 on race-day Sundays.
Here’s a message:
Get over it.
The point: The races are great for our county's coffers.

We'll also have our regular letters to the editor and a column by Philadelphia Inquirer writer Trudy Rubin.

Greatest SEC games ever


Gearing up to the SEC championship game in December, we're looking to find the Top 5 in 75 -- the five greatest SEC games of all time. That's a lot of years, so we're looking to get nominations to put on a ballot that we'll then put before our readers. Readers will select the Top 5 from that ballot, and we'll run them on the lead up to the championship game.

What we need from our nominating committee: Suggestions for the best game and 2-3 sentences on why that game's the best.

These games must be pure SEC vs. SEC matchups. No inter-conference bowl games or out-of-conference games, and certainly we must get beyond Alabama and Auburn, although Punt Bama Punt is already on the list.

Features Editor Laura Tutor is compiling the nominations. Click here to e-mail her.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Coming Thursday on the editorial/op-ed pages

The Star's editorial board is examining the need to protect and preserve the huge collection of historical documents and period newspapers in the basement of the Calhoun County Courthouse:
This dusty collection of historical artifacts is one of our county’s most priceless items. Where else can you find the listings of the 1904 Alabama state tax for Confederate soldiers? Or newsprint copies of The Alabama Leader, The People’s Journal or The Union Advocate?
The Star also is looking at Alabama's efforts to build research and industry through our universities:
Thus far, more than 50 eminent scholar chairs have been endowed in such a plan in neighboring Georgia. These individuals and their research teams have brought in more than $1 billion in grants, launched some 25 companies and created around 1,500 jobs. In research infrastructure, Georgia has generated more than $600 million in private investments and more than $1 billion in grants to build and upgrade labs and facilities. The alliance also has helped launch some 125 new companies, with 3,000 high-paying jobs and around $600 million in investments.
Other states — Kentucky, for example — are jumping on the bandwagon.
And Alabama?
So far, our efforts have been as balkanized as our universities.
We'll also have our usual postings of letters to the editor and opinion columns.

Thursday in The Star

Coming Thursday in The Anniston Star:

Todd South has a followup on the noose discovered at the Anniston Army Depot. Where's the investigation going?

Dan Whisenhunt writes about federal prosecutors in Birmingham filing foreiture claims on local architect Julian Jenkins' business property and two bank accounts tied to his firm.
Whisenhunt also has a story about a new program at the County landfill for the disposal of computer equipment.

Steve Ivey writes about a company that that is planning to run a new natural gas pipeline through the Talladega National Forest.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

In Wednesday's Anniston Star

Coming Wednesday in The Anniston Star:

Andy Johns visits two distinctive musuems that are labors of love - one in Heflin and one in Roanoke.

Dan Whisenhunt has a story on the JPA meeting and more on the search for a CEO.

What to expect from race traffic this week and what the track and state troopers are planning to deal with it.

Judge Malcom Street is presiding over his 700th case. Nick Cenegy spends some time with the longtime judge and those who know him.

George Smith profiles "Brother Bob," the Rev. Bob Ford, retired JSU campus minister.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Coming Tuesday on the editorial page

The Star's editorial board is looking at last week's report out of Oxford, whose financial outlook may be extremely bright because a significant expected budget surplus:
Residents should require that Oxford use its money in a progressive, ambitious manner; Oxford’s financial security gives it an advantage most cities of its size do not enjoy. And any good businessman knows he must upgrade and pump a portion of his profits back into his business. In this sense, Oxford’s City Hall is just that, a business — a business with the financial wherewithal to avoid stagnation.
Also, The Star again is examining the need for a separate board of education for the two-year college system and the cleaning of the corruption that exists there:
There also is the recently reported matter of a person with political connections who was paid by different two-year colleges to work in the office of Govs. Don Siegelman and (briefly) Bob Riley, and later for U.S. Rep. Artur Davis.
It is a twisted web with college presidents signing off on an arrangement which clearly should have been nipped in the bud. But without a chancellor willing to nip it —indeed, records show that the previous chancellor actually approved the arrangement — and a board with the time and inclination to keep track of this sort of thing, money that should have been spent on the respective campuses was spent for lobbying and political contacts.

Tuesday's Star

Coming Tuesday in The Anniston Star:

Bill Edwards has a look inside a basement room of the Calhoun County Courthouse labeled "Dungeon." What's in there? No chain-bound prisoners, but piles of old newspapers and tax records going back more than 100 years.

Wellborn High School is naming its band room after longtime director, Jeff Lenard, who died over the weekend. Steve Ivey talks to teachers, and others, who remember Lenard.

Charles Bishop speaks to the Calhoun County Republicans. Todd South covers that engagement.