Friday, November 30, 2007

Coming this weekend in The Star

On Saturday:

Find out which game was voted the top SEC matchup in the past 75 years by Star readers.

Governor Bob Riley's announcing an initiative to give small businesses a tax break for providing health insurance to employees. Markeshia Ricks writes about the proposal and what it could mean for small business owners and employees.

Todd South looks at whether or not the decision by the Marine Corps to reduce orders for mine-resistant armored personnel carriers will affect production of MRAPs in Anniston and Oxford.

On Sunday:

There's no easy way to tell a father how $40 morphs into thousands of dollars in hospital bills for his baby. Or explain that making $40 too much one month means his family, with two parents working, will chip away at that hospital debt for years to come...Laura Tutor takes a look at the SCHIP program. More American families are closer to that line than their neighbors realize, say insurance industry experts and advocates for State Children’s Health Insurance Programs.

Steve Ivey explores the desegregation orders that mean more than 200 school systems around the country are still under federal scrutiny. Why are schools still under these orders?

Steve also will cover the opening of the Chief Ladiga Trail through Cleburne County and Light Up Anniston events downtown.

On Monday:

Dodgeball. Coming to Calhoun County. Need we say more?

Also: Some new residents at McClellan want roads closed to thru traffic, saying people are speeding through their neighborhoods.

Peace in the Mideast

On Sunday, The Star's Insight section is offering a collection of analyses about this week's Mideast peace conference and, more important, what the future may hold. We're also planning to include a list of 10 questions -- and answers, of course -- about the conference and the difficult Israeli-Palestinian relationship.

Check it out in Sunday's Star.

Coming Saturday on the editorial page

The Star's editorial board is looking back at last weekend's blitz by the state troopers and its effect in saving lives on Alabama roadways:
During the Thanksgiving holidays, some 200 additional state troopers, plus increased numbers of local law-enforcement personnel — in cooperation with similar increases in Mississippi and Tennessee — took to the highways and byways of their respective states, just as they did last year.
The results were the same. Only this time, they were better.
Our editorial, as you can read on Saturday, goes on to give statistics proving how well the state trooper's program worked during the Thanksgiving holiday.

We'll also have our usual fare of letters to the editor and other features.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Friday's' Star

Coming Friday in The Star:

The Calhoun County Board of Education may be in hot water after pressing ahead on construction of White Plains Middle School before reporting the construction to a judge overseeing its desegregation order. Steve Ivey examines this story.

Markeshia Ricks looks at the practice of giving state legislators two free tickets to the Iron Bowl. Why? And what do our local legislators do with theirs?

With the tainted-toy scare, this seems like a fine time to ask: Why not get kids something to read for Christmas? Steve Ivey talks with folks about buying literary gifts.

Alabama 77 could be rerouted because Wellborn Cabinet wants it moved for an expansion. Andy Johns follows up on this story.

We need a hero, several actually

Every year The Star's editorial page recognizes doers of good deeds, particularly those folks who work away from the spotlight in serving their fellow man. We're issuing the call once more this year.
Wanted: Local heroes
Scores of citizens regularly do good deeds in our community. They quietly volunteer their time, money and other resources, and good cheer to worthwhile causes. We¹d like to know about these unsung heroes, and share some of their stories during this holiday season.
If you would like to nominate someone who deserves recognition as a local unsung hero, please let us know. Send in a short note telling us why your nominee should be honored. Be sure to include your name and contact information. The deadline for entries is Dec. 7. Send your nominations to:

Mail: P.O. Box 189,Anniston, AL 36202
Fax: (256) 241-1991
For e-mail, click here.

Dam progress

Highlighted for emphasis:
Commission backs Riley’s water policy efforts, wants dams checked
The commission also passed a resolution about the need for a statewide dam safety program, saying they hope planned legislation will rid Alabama of the shameful designation of being the only state that doesn’t inspect its dams.
A recent study showed there are approximately 10,100 dams in Alabama, said Leslie Durham, a branch chief at the Alabama Office of Water Resources.

Here are two links to the background of this development - here and here.
These links and other summarize the reporting done by The Star on dam safety:
The story so far
The Anniston Star has reported since January that the condition of Alabama's dams — even the number of them — is unknown because the state has no inspection program. Alabama is the only state in the nation without a Safe Dams program. The stories below followed the issue from Anniston to Montgomery to Washington.
Jan. 28 — State Office of Water Resources officials said they were pursuing legislative options to better monitor dam conditions.
March 4 — The last time Alabama counted the dams on its rivers, streams and ponds was in 1981. Critics say the lack of information could leave nearby residents vulnerable to loss of life or property.
Aug. 15 — The state Office of Water Resources and the Natural Resource Conservation Service in Montgomery began a random sampling to get an inventory of how many dams are in the state.
Sept. 23 — Lawmakers say creating legislation that regulates dam safety and maintenance is not a priority.
Oct. 5 — The lack of a dam safety program could cost Alabama $200 million in federal money under the National Dam Safety bill moving through Congress.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Thursday's Star

Coming Thursday in The Star:

The monkey found in Ohatchee has been claimed by a Gadsden man. Her name is Phyllis and Carl Weaver said he read the article in Wednesday’s Star and knew that the primate, who was found about five miles from his farm, had to be his. We'll have more details in Thursday's paper.

We take a look at the Lilly Ledbetter Act, the bill, now in the U.S. Senate named for a Jacksonville woman whose employment discrimination case went all the way to the Supreme Court. We also talk with Ledbetter about the bill and her case.

As the Supreme Court looks at Washington D.C.'s ban on guns, what impact could it have on Alabama? Markeshia Ricks looks at this story.

Nunnally’s Framing is moving into a newly-renovated historic building in downtown Anniston and will have its open house this weekend. Dan Whisenhunt writes about the renovated building, its history and the framining company's roots in Anniston.

What's in your lobby?

This morning's news planning meeting prompted an interesting exchange. Ben Cunningham was discussing a recent story on the public radio program On the Media. The segment was on the artwork displayed in the lobby of the new New York Times offices.
The display is called "Movable Type." Here's how the Times described it in an Oct. 25 story:
Since The Times moved in June from its longtime home on West 43rd Street in Manhattan to its new, almost completed tower designed by Renzo Piano on Eighth Avenue between 40th and 41st Streets, two men — an artist, Ben Rubin, and a statistician, Mark Hansen — have all but taken up residence in the building’s cavernous lobby, huddled most days around laptops and coffee cups on a folding table. Flanking them on two high walls are 560 small screens, 280 a wall, suspended in a grid pattern that looks at first glance like some kind of minimalist sculpture.
But then the screens, simple vacuum fluorescent displays of the kind used in alarm clocks and cash registers, come to life, spewing out along the walls streams of orphaned sentences and phrases that have appeared in The Times or, in many cases, that are appearing on the paper’s Web site at that instant.
They are fished from The Times databases by computerized algorithms that Mr. Rubin and Mr. Hansen have designed that parse the paper in strange ways, selecting, for example, only sentences from quotations that start with "you" or "I." Or sentences ending in question marks. Or just the first, tightly choreographed sentences of obituaries.
The content of the permanent installation, called "Moveable Type," is drawn not only from the words that The Times reports but also, in real time, from the search terms and Web commentary pouring in from thousands of readers around the world, capturing what Mr. Rubin called "both the push and the pull" of the newspaper.

The Star's lobby (shown above) employs much the same premise with its engraved quotations, though the type isn't quite as "movable."

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Coming Wednesday on the editorial/op-ed pages

The Star's editorial board is considering a recent report that gives Alabama an "F" for its online disclosure of business-related documents -- which is surprising considering Gov. Bob Riley's strong record for transparency in government:
For his many successes, and others, the governor should be commended.
However, the 21st century is a different era, thanks in no small part to the Internet. And all governments — from small-town city halls all the way to D.C. — should use the Web to communicate with residents and conduct much of its business.
The Star also is looking again at the cost of the America's wars, and how we're paying for them:
The Bush administration continues to neglect the pay-as-you-go principle of war. Every major U.S. war has required a tax to fund the guns, ammo and troops needed. Not this one. The White House gave huge tax cuts to the richest 1 percent of Americans and left the bill to future generations. Through bad and worse in Iraq, this position has not wavered.
And this from Star columnist Hardy Jackson on last Saturday's Auburn-Alabama football game:
Now, friends — and you are my friends — I seriously doubt if you will ever find a group of more dedicated football fans than those assembled around Daddy’s TV between Thanksgiving Thursday and time-to-go-home Sunday to watch game after game after game, college and pro, waiting all the while for Auburn and Alabama to go at it.
But what we thought would be prelude and would set us up for the big night wore us out instead.

Wednesday's Star

Coming Wednesday in The Anniston Star:

Nick Cenegy has an update with details and an ID of the man who shot himself in Oxford after a standoff with police.

The Carroll County (Ga.) coroner says it could be 90 days before the results of forensics tests on Ben Stanford's body are available.

County water department workers found a monkey beside a road in Ohatchee. Andy Johns has the story of the macaque monkey....

Steve Ivey has a story on a World War II veteran who visited with students at Pleasant Valley High School and shared his story.

Coverage of Anniston and Oxford City Council meetings.

Shameless tease to Wednesday's Page 1

UPDATE: 3 water workers discover animal near Ohatchee

The lyrics to Zachary Richard's song Who Stole My Monkey are stuck in my head.

Your turn at the mic

A reprinting of Ring Out Wild Bells by Alfred Lord Tennyson is a New Years tradition at The Star.

We're looking to kick it up a notch this year. We're looking for folks who would be willing to be videotaped reading Lord Tennyson's classic poem. We'll put the best ones on our Web site at the start of the year. Got a local candidate in mind? Maybe you're itching to get in front of the camera and recite? Drop me an e-mail here.

Our space

Did you know The Star has a Myspace page?

Of course it does. Click here to view it.

Coming soon: A Facebook page.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Coming Tuesday in The Star

Check out Tuesday's Anniston Star for these stories:

'Tis the season: Andy Johns has a listing of all the area Christmas parade,s starting with Jacksonville's Tuesday night, with photos of the Jacksonville, JSU lighting ceremonies Monday night.

Donoho is installing a second "smart board." How do these things work? Steve Ivey has this story.

Todd South profiles Saturday morning classes on Hispanic language and culture. With more Latinos moving to the area, some local residents are spending their time off to learn more about their culture.

The National Transportation Safety Board says the Lincoln train wreck two years ago was caused by glare from the sun obscuring an engineer's vision. Also, a judge has rulted that claimants in a lawsuit against Nofrold Southern Railroad can go ahead with a suit over the accident. Todd South follows up on this.

All hat and no ...

Why am I wearing this hat?
Because Managing Editor and Auburn fan Anthony Cook and I made a wager. If my team - the Crimson Tide - won Saturday's game he would be sporting a UA baseball cap in the office today. If his team won I'd wear an Auburn cap.
Any more questions?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

What's inside your football helmet?

The Thanksgiving edition of the Star featured dueling turkeys, one wearing an Alabama football helmet and the other an Auburn helmet.

That was no easy trick what with propping up an uncooked turkey and putting the helmet just so.

We can't even imagine what it took to get helmets on longhorns, a la Saturday's Kansas City Star.

Friday, November 23, 2007

This weekend

You can find these stories in the Saturday and Sunday editions of The Star:
On Saturday:

As the Iron Bowl kicks off, Steve Ivey examines whether Calhoun County leans toward Alabama or Auburn....or JSU.

Black Friday came and went and lots of folks woke up early, packed the stores and shopped till they dropped.

According to the Community Transportation Association of America, nearly 40 percent of the country is dependent on some form of public or community transportation, whether it's a city bus system or a rural van pick-up service. In many communities, however, transit systems are limited or nonexistent. Markeshia Ricks looks at the situation in Alabama.

On Sunday:

Complete Iron Bowl coverage.

Nick Cenegy rides along with one of the police officers on the semi-undercover robbery-season patrol.

A recent report found that the South leads the nation in the number of poor children in public schools. Markeshia Ricks examines what this means for the state.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Coming Thursday in The Star

On Thanksgiving, check out The Star for these stories:

Andy Johns talks with fans about the Iron Bowl. How are they going to swing family togetherness combined with the game falling on the Thanksgiving weekend? Are some folks going to head to Grandma's for the holiday and then head over to the game?

Matt Kasper tackles another important Thanksgiving story: How do you have a healthy holiday, especially this one that is centered on eating. He talks with food and health experts about how to balance consumption and conscience.

Matt also talks with international students at JSU. What do they do for the holiday?

And George Smith has his annual Thanksgiving column.

Markeshia Ricks also has a story on voting and we've got a nice photo of Alexandria Elementary School students shipping Christmas gifts to soldiers in Iraq.

Coming in Sunday's Insight

UPDATE: The Bobcast conversation about our wild river trip is up.

I write an essay in Sunday's Insight section. The story details the events of a river trip.
Twenty-five years ago this month, a group of high school seniors and two adults commenced a rafting trip down the Sipsey River in west Alabama. Before it was over, some members of the party would abandon the effort, seeking warmth and comfort in the arms of their sweethearts. The rest would struggle on without food and adequate shelter. Heck, my sleeping bag caught on fire.Reflecting on that wild trip a quarter century later, there are few redeeming lessons. But there are lots of amusing stories

There's more, a lot more. The Weekend Bobcast is a discussion about the trip with one of my fellow paddlers, Chad Bailey. He's exectuive producer and host of the outdoors TV program Makin' Tracks.

Not freebird, fried bird

This turkey is courtesy of the Calhoun County Sheriff's Department, which is frying approximately 120 today. It tastes excellent. So much so that it was reduced to a picked-over carcass in mere minutes.

Chief Deputy Matthew Wade (pictured on top) kindly offered one of the turkeys to Star photographer Kevin Qualls, who promptly brought it to the newsroom to share. What else could Kevin do? The chief deputy had a weapon.

Lest anyone accuse us of excepting graft, there's a steaming pot of turkey gumbo heading the Sheriff's Dept.'s way early next week.

Inspiration from Cleveland

OK, we'll admit it. Today's Star front page engages in the, um, highest form of flattery for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. In other words, we saw a great idea the Sunday edition of the Cleveland newspaper - the cost of holiday travel in light of rising gas prices - and decided to imitate it on our front page.
Susan Goldberg, the editor of the Plain Dealer, has relatives in Anniston. So I decided to come clean earlier this week.

Thought the Page 1 holiday travel story and chart was great.
We admired it so much we're attempting our own version.
Just thought I should come clean lest you visit your in-laws in Anniston this Thanksgiving and notice it
Guess that makes me a full-disclosure thief, right?

E-mails are pouring in

Nearly 20 years in this business and it still catches me off-guard occasionally.

Last week, I centered my Friday opinion column on the movement across the U.S. to grant adoptees access to their birth records. Only eight states allow adoptees access to their birth certificates and other pertinent papers; Alabama's one of them.

For adoptees in the other 42 states, that means they have no access to family histories or their medical histories, which in many cases are vitally important. I think that's wrong. Why should adults who were placed for adoption as children be denied the rights all other U.S.-born citizens automatically have? They shouldn't.

Understandably, I've received a lot of e-mail on this issue. Some Web site picked up my column and passed it around; most of the e-mailers have been from out of state. And most of the e-mails have been from adoptees who agree with my take.

But a few e-mails have been from adoptees who are searching for their birth information and are requesting my help. It's been amazing to read their stories and realize the pain they feel from being denied access they both deserve and need. I have a hard time believing that anyone who reads their comments wouldn't understand the seriousness of this issue.

Here's the column. It's tooting my own horn, I know, but it might be worth another read. It's an important subject.

On Thursday, Abe and FDR will make The Star's edit page

As a Thanksgiving treat, The Star's editorial board will put aside its normal ramblings and offer two of the best presidential Thanksgiving speeches -- one from Abraham Lincoln, another from Franklin D. Roosevelt -- in their entirety.

Trust me: They're worth a few minutes of your time on Turkey Day.

We'll also have a nice collection of other Thanksgiving-related items on our Thursday op-ed page, as well.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wednesday's Star

Coming Wednesday in The Anniston Star:

If you're driving somewhere for the holiday, you're paying for it. Gas prices are climbing to record highs. We'll see how much it'll cost you to go how far - complete with a great graphic map.

Markeshia Ricks looks at the state of Alabama's economy. What's the outlook/predictions for the economy with high gas prices and food prices also going up? Will we see an upswing in holiday spending for Black Friday?

Andy Johns stopped by a presentation by a UA professor the Daughters of the Confederacy were hosting about the Southern dialect.

Counterfeit cash seems to multiply around Christmastime. How can you tell if your Benjamins are bona fide? Nick Cenegy talks with local law enforcement about this.

We're talking turkey

UPDATE: Laura Tutor offer tips for last-minute turkey preparation on today's Bobcast. You can listen by clicking on the Gcast player at right or clicking this link.

We had need of a turkey as a photo prop this morning. (Shhhh, can't tell why but you'll find out in Thursday's paper.)

No need to let a good bird go to waste ... so Features Editor Laura Tutor got to cooking and the newsroom is glad of it. Yum.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Tuesday's Star

Coming Tuesday in The Anniston Star:

Nick Cenegy writes about the state troopers who will be back out on the roads in force for another enforcement blitz as the Thanksgiving holiday nears.

The Hub, a 28-year-old Wedowee restaurant is for sale. What's going to happen to the well-known eatery? Andy Johns has this story.

Alberta Freeman, techonology director at the Anniston Army Depot, won an All-Star award from the National Women of Color organization. Todd South profiles Freeman and what she does.

Dan Whisenhunt checks in on the Christmas Clearinghouse as the giving season gets underway.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Supreme Court candidates says Star edit made mistake

A portion of The Star's Thursday editorial The case of partisan justice is being disputed.

State Supreme Court candidate Deborah Bell Paseur takes issue with a section of the edit which had her standing in front of a sign pointing out the party-line split of a decision friendly to an oil company.

The editorial based this on an account given in an Associated Press news story.
Democratic Supreme Court candidate Deborah Bell Paseur kicked off her campaign Tuesday standing in front of a supporter holding an "8-1" sign criticizing the Supreme Court's Exxon Mobil decision.

The judge says it didn't happen. Star editors have contacted the AP to straighten this out. In the meantime, here's a letter giving Deborah Bell Paseur's version of events:

November 16, 2007

Dear Editor,

Last week, I announced my candidacy for justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, which resulted in your Nov. 15 editorial, “The Case of Partisan Justice.”
I agree with much of what was said, especially your final conclusion that Alabama needs laws that require “interest groups to report every dime they contribute to political campaigns and candidates.”
One small, but very important detail, however, was not accurate. I never stood in front of a sign that said “8-1.” I had my campaign review the video footage to make certain of this.
Before my announcement, there was a crowd of people assembled at the Supreme Court building, and some of them arrived with signs. Apparently one of those signs referred to the recent Supreme Court ruling in the Exxon case and the fact that eight Republicans ruled one way with the lone Democrat on the other side. Before I came out of the building, however, one of my campaign workers saw the sign in question and had it removed. I do not know who brought it, but, again, it was not behind me when I announced.
Whoever brought that sign did not know why I am running for the Alabama Supreme Court, or they would not have done so. Put simply and in words from your editorial, it is to try and change what you accurately described as a “decade of partisan wrangling.”
I am not partisan. I don’t consider myself a politician. I’m a judge. I have been a judge for almost 28 years and have never faced opposition in my re-election campaigns. I am known for being fair and for treating everyone equally. I first ran for office, because a judge was abusing his position and mistreating people, and as a former police officer, I felt compelled to defend the integrity of the court. If I had lost, my ability to practice law in my county would have been hampered, but my first concern was for the court.
Now, I am running for our Supreme Court for similar reasons. The contentiousness, the unseemly spending, and the advertising by special interest groups undermines the integrity of our courts and is eroding public trust in our judicial system. Running under the “8-1” banner might highlight that anxiety. It might even win votes. But it is a partisan message that does not help restore the dignity deserving of the office I seek. I am not a politician. I am a judge.

Respectfully Submitted,
Deborah Bell Paseur

More later. For now let me emphasize that the editorial's main point still stands
A decade of partisan wrangling has left Alabama with a judicial system where justices are inclined to interpret the law according to legal standards and philosophies that reflect the interests and attitudes of the groups that paid for the campaigns that got the justices elected in the first place. And there is not much to suggest that special interests will support legislation to change this.

ARCH conducting community survey

UPDATE: To do the survey online, go to this Web site and user the login code headling.

Alberta McCrory of the ARCH Initiative -Anniston Community Healing and Reconciliation Project writes to seek "the active involvement of community members to carry out its objective to address the underlying issues which have rendered Anniston frozen in time, unable to realize positive and forward -moving growth to ensure an achievable and sustainable future for area youth. Community members will work with consultants from the Cincinnati, Ohio-based ARIA Group that supports people and organizations and communities as they engage painful problems of the past and envision new possibilities for the future."
She continues, "Questionnaires/surveys have been mailed to elected officials, pastors and clergy and community members. Questionnaires are available at some area schools and churches,Gadsden State Community College Anniston and McClellan, the Anniston and Carver Library, Anne's flower Garden and J's Wings."

The deadline is Nov. 20.
For more information, e-mail Alberta McCrory, executive director of the ARCH Initiative, at:

Friday, November 16, 2007

This weekend in The Star

Coming this weekend in The Star:

On Saturday:
Dan Whisenhunt visits with two local businesses who focus on fun. Beyond Imagination is going strong and there's new business, Play Station, that just opened on Hillyer Robinson. Are arcades making a comeback?

The annual Leonid meteor shower is happning Saturday night and into Sunday with a special guest appearance by Comet Holmes. Andy Johns tells you what you need to know about this good night for star gazing.

On Sunday:
The Clay County superindendent is forming a blue ribbon panel to look at consolidating the county's two high schools and building a new one with state bond money. Steve Ivey talks with school officials and residents about the idea.

With water supplies dwindling, it seems like a good time to ask: Who is in charge of making sure our drinking water is safe? Editor-at-large John Fleming has this story.

Meanwhile, water is leaking in Hobson City. Todd South looks into this.

Nick Cenegy has a story about an innovative law enforcement tactic: The guy handing you your hamburger at the fast-food chain may not be a fast-food worker. He or she may be a semi-undercover cop, stationed there for the holidays to combat what some say is an increase in robberies this time of year.

On Monday we will have coverage of some weekend events including the Community Thanksgiving Service at Parker Memorial Baptist Church on Sunday and candlelight tours in Heflin.

Coming Sunday in Insight

Don't miss The Star's Insight section on Sunday, which will carry a particularly interesting package on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and America's dependence on foreign oil.

Coming Saturday on the editorial page

The Star's editorial board is examining a hard-hitting, important topic -- the amount of money the state of Alabama makes on vanity plates and specialty plates on our cars and trucks:
On a serious note, we should make it clear that vanity plates are big business — big business, especially for a state whose bank account isn’t the union’s most bountiful. This summer, a Florence TimesDaily study revealed that vanity-plate fees in Alabama brought in more than $29 million in the previous 12-month period, with the revenue going to the state’s General Fund. Silly phrases or not, that’s too much cash for the state to turn down.

We'll also have our other regular features on Saturday's pages.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Friday's Star

Coming Friday in The Anniston Star:

Coverage of the memorial held at The Donoho School for Ben Stanford. Also any new information we may gather about the investigation into his death.

Some residents have complained about the city's debris incinerator. Dan Whisenhunt talks with them and city officials about their concerns.

Alabama got an F in a new study of state's disclosure of financial influence on state government and elections. Markeshia Ricks has this story.

Markeshia also attended a highway safety meeting today where attendees discussed legislation regarding an interlock system that is supposed to keep would-be drunken driverse from starting their cars.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Thursday's Star

Coming Thursday in The Anniston Star:

The death of Ben Stanford has been ruled a suicide. Andy Johns follows up on this story.

Oxford Police made a big cocaine drug bust near I-20.

It's America Recycles Day: Todd South writes about recycling efforts in Calhoun County.

Thursday is the filing deadline for a class action lawsuit from the 2006 Lincoln trail derailment. Todd South talks with those affected about whether or not they are signing on to the lawsuit. Many Lomar Drive residentse are opting out of the suit because they fear it might delay construction of another way out of their neighborhood.

The fate of Barbara Wilson and Rufus Kinney's trees in Jacksonville is headed to trial.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wednesday in The Star

The weeklong two-state search for missing Lincoln teenager Ben Stanford ended today with the discovery of a young man's body. Now, investigators are trying to learn what happened to him.

Check for updated coverage Wednesday and also see this story and others from Star staff, including reaction from students and staff at The Donoho School and a look into the role technology played in the search.

Also coming Wednesday in The Star: Cooler, temperatures and rain in the forecast won't end the drought in Alabama according to officials.

The JPA has set salary for the CEO position which they are searching to fill.

Add your Thanksgiving memories here

Wednesday's Food section delves into Star staff members' Thanksgiving memories.

We'd like to hear yours. Post in COMMENTS below.

Body found during search for missing teen

Update at 2:24 p.m.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tuesday's Star

Coming Tuesday in The Anniston Star:

We will have continuing coverage of the search for missing Donoho student, Ben Stanford. A team from Texas is organizing a party of local volunteers to comb the Villa Rica, Ga. area on four-wheelers Tuesday. That's where Stanford's Jeep was found. Todd South reports on this and Andy Johns will be on the scene in the morning and sending updates to our Web site. Scroll down to the last posting here for more information about Stanford who has been mising for a week.

Nick Cenegy profies the Calhoun County Sheriff's Office SORT program - that's their program to track sex offenders. Deputy Rachel Israel and others volunteer their time to check up on the county's sex offenders.

Markeshia Ricks has a story about plans by the state to set up a voting Web site for overseas military personnel who will be deployed during the upcoming primaries.

Matt Kasper will be at Monday's meeting in Ohatchee as residents gather to talk about the resignation of football coach Ray Crump.

Search for missing teen continues

A Web site has been set up to assist the search for Ben Stanford, the local teen who has been missing since last Monday. The link is here.

The latest story from The Star is here.

Feel free to post your comments and news tips below.

Oxford football story on Rural Blog

The Rural Blog, an effort led by Al Cross at the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues based at the University of Kentucky, has a post on the Oxford High football teams bad news and The Star's decision to not name the player ruled ineligible.

The Rural Blog's post is here.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Friday's Bobcast: The road trip

By Bob Davis
Quiz time, sports fans.
What do the books-turned-movies Friday Night Lights and To Kill a Mockingbird, country music singer Tammy Wynette, a Benedictine monastery and blue singer W.C. Handy have in common?
Answer: They are all landmarks or famous people connected to the Alabama towns where area high school football teams travel Friday for the first round of the play-offs.
Friday’s Star, in a story written by Steve Ivey, goes into detail on the landmarks supporters of five local teams will see as they hit the road. Here’s a sneak preview.
Ranburne plays Addison in Winston County, the birthplace of Scout’s teacher in To Kill a Mockingbird.
Pleasant Valley has hit the trivia jackpot. The Raiders visit Red Bay, known as the stomping grounds of George Jones brand dog food, Tammy Wynette and former UA kicker Van Tiffin.
On the way to play Good Hope, Lincoln fans looking to appeal to a higher power can stop by Cullman’s Sacred Heart Monastery.
Alexandria plays Brooks in Killen, near where the father of the blues W.C. Handy was born.
And finally, in what may be the most emblematic journey for all the high schools in the playoffs, there’s Donoho’s road trip. The Falcons head to Danville to play Speake High School.
Speake’s most famous alum is actor Lucas Black who graduated in 2001. Black is known for his role in the 2004 film Friday Night Lights. In the movie, Black plays Texas high school quarterback Mike Winchell, an undersized player who by wit and determination leads his team through the state playoffs against teams with superior talent.
It’s a dream all teams share as the playoffs begin.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

The Seven Cautions

Roy Peter Clark, a senior scholar at the Poynter Institute, has an interesting post on how journalists use language. It includes a list of of cautions for journalists.
1. Be skeptical of all claims that the sky is falling. Ground yourself in American history so that you can compare and contrast your own times to other troubled times, such as the Civil War, the Depression, the World Wars, the Cold War, Vietnam, the Civil Rights era, and Watergate.
2. Challenge any language and assertions that are fraught with emotional and historical weight. (One morning many years ago on NBC's "Today" show, a celebrity guest kept calling The New York Times "Pravda," and host Edwin Newman showed him the door.)
3. Challenge any language that sounds like a slogan: right to life, right to choose, cut and run, mission accomplished, freedom on the march.
4. Analyze political language as part of your reporting process. This is one of the strategies that make "The Daily Show" and "The Colbert Report" so popular and persuasive. They pay close attention to the language of public figures, and, through satire and humor, reveal the "truthiness" of it.
5. Learn the complex relationship between political corruption and language abuse by reading "Politics and the English Language" by George Orwell.
6. Give special weight to sources and analysts who do not adhere slavishly to a particular ideology. Look for the long time member of the NRA who favors some restrictions on gun ownership. Look for the feminist who is troubled by some of the consequences of legal abortion. People willing to reflect upon and question some of their own normal affinities can offer powerful testimony.
7. Do not just quote political metaphors and analogies, but test them. Is Iraq another Vietnam? Would leaving Iraq be akin to Chamberlain’s accommodations to Hitler through the Munich Pact?

Click here for the entire column.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Coming Thursday in The Star

Thursday's Anniston Star will feature these stories:

It must be the holiday season because the Nutcracker has arrived. Bill Edwards spent some time with third graders at 10th Street Elementary as they were introduced to the ballet.

Another rite of passage of childhood: Chicken pox. Markeshia Ricks has this story about the vaccine. The state Health Department says the vaccine, now mandatory, isn't working well enough and needs a follow up shot to properly prevent the virus.

The Anniston Army Depot rasied more than $500,000 in their combined federal campaign this year. That's a lot of money, going to help out charities. Todd South reports on this story.

Todd South also writes about attempts in Jacksonville to collect canned food and try and set a world record.

Dan Whisenhunt has more "canned food news," with a guide to giving to local charities, many of who tell us their cupboards are pretty bare.

Medicare's open enrollment will soon be upon us. Matt Kasper looks at this - This will be the time for people on Medicare to enroll in a drug plan, review their health care and drug coverage and make changes.

The Nutcracker .. sweet

Programming note: The next Bobcast will feature Bill Edwards discussing his story in Thursday's Star. Wednesday Edwards spent time with third-graders from 10th Street Elementary in Anniston. The students were preparing for their visit to the Knox Concert Series' annual production of The Nutcracker, an annual tradition.
To listen to the Bobcast, click on the audio player on the right-hand side of this Web page.

Campaign cash, Alabama-style

The Star's Markeshia Ricks reports on presidential fundraising one year out from Election Day. Her discovery:
When it comes to fundraising for the 2008 race to the White House, former Senator and one-time vice-president hopeful John Edwards knows how to get the job done in Alabama.
Already into the last fundraising quarter of the year, Edwards has raised $435,016 in Alabama, surpassing the Republican Party's top fundraiser in the state, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, according to Federal Election Commission records.
So far, FEC records show Giuliani has raised $303,798 dollars from Alabama supporters to date. The FEC requires candidates to report contributions of $200 or more.

Want to get more local than the state? Want to see the national picture? The Center for Responsive Politics maintains an excellent database, The curious can discover who's giving to candidates by postal code, a breakdown of which industries are giving to which candidates and other tools for citizenship.

Riley rolling on the river

Gov. Bob Riley's press office sent out the following release over the weekend:
Sent: Saturday, November 03, 2007 7:59 AM
Subject: Atlanta newspaper: "Alabama got its way" in water talks
Today’s edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution points out a key fact that is emerging from Thursday’s “water summit” in Washington between the governors of Alabama, Florida and Georgia: “Alabama got its way.”

What followed was a link to the AJC story.
Dr. Seuss would surely wonder if this good news water story made "Bob Riley's gloat boat float?"

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Go vote ... for greatest SEC games

The deadline for voting on the greatest football games in the first 75 years of SEC history continues.
Enjoy the video. Afterwards, click here and vote.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Tuesday's Star

Pick up Tuesday's Anniston Star for the following stories:

Break out the jackets - colder temps head into the area this week. Daytime highs could be in the 50s, with nightime temps dropping into the 30s Tuesday and Wednesday. Andy Johns checks into the weather news.

Dan Whisenhunt reports on the six-month moratorium on licenses for cash-advance and title pawn businesses, approved by the Anniston City Council Monday.

Three employees at the Solutia plant were injured Monday. Nick Cenegy has this story.

The state is fleshing out its statewide trauma system for hospitals. Markeshia Ricks looks into what that means.

Coming Tuesday on the editorial page

The Star's editorial board is opining on Tuesday's meeting of the Joint Powers Authority, and what we hope will be an advanced discussion about the hiring process for a CEO:
The CEO search will likely come up today (Tuesday) when the JPA meets. When it does, we expect members will move forward in searching for a new executive who brings robust vision and a can-do spirit to the redevelopment of McClellan, and one who will continue the former fort on its steady climb to success.
We're also lamenting about the Iraq war and its mounting U.S. military death toll:
This coming week brings Veterans Day, the hallowed day when we honor those who have served in the military. It also brings Monday’s headline: That 2007 likely will be the deadliest year thus far for America’s military in the Iraq war.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Coming this weekend in The Star

Stories you can find in the Saturday and Sunday editions of The Star:

This Saturday:
Reports are that the shelves are really bare at the Center for Concern. Why? How are the other area charities doing? Dan Whisenhunt covers this story.

Matt Kasper has an update on the search for more water sources in Jacksonville. How close is the city to making a decision? How is the search progressing?

Steve Ivey highlights the Anniston City Schools Foundation's involvement in a program to train elementary-age kids to use computers.


Nick Cenegy profiles the Calhoun County Juvenile Drug Court.

Water water...Markeshia Ricks presents a primer on the "water wars" between Georgia, Florida and Alabama. How did this debate become drinking water v. mussels and sturgeons and does Karl Rove have anything to do with it?

Got bad neighbors? Andy Johns looks at a Web site which allows people to post warnings to potential home buyers about bad neighbors. Andy will also talk with sociologists about this - why do people use anonymous web posts instead of talking to neighbors?

And on Monday:
Andy explores the potential of alligators in our neck of the woods. A man in Lineville says he hooked an 8-footer on a turtle line. The drought has made the lakes shrink which means humans and the few, normally unseen, gators could come in contact more.

Where there's smoke ...

An e-mailer responds to Thursday's editorial notebook, A modest tornado theory: Skeptical about the weather
GP writes:
"The New York Times in an editorial in 2006 lambasted Senator Inhofe's position on man made global warming. Now that both you and the Times have debunked Senator Inhofe's 2006 position and speech, please read the 2006 commentary by Debra J. Saunders that followed the Times article. Therefore, request you now debunk the Saunders' article in an editorial. Now that Al Gore' film and his movement have propelled him into sharing the Nobel Prize, again use this prestigious award in support of your editorial. Also address and debunk the opinion of Copenhagen Consensus cited by Saunders. Would like very much to read your commentary in the new future."

Saunders labels herself a man-made global warming "agnostic." Hard to debunk an agnostic. Besides, our little edit notebook intended mere whimsy, not debunking.
Let's remember, no serious person could claim any field of science has unanimous agreement, especially in global warming. However, it's accurate to say that the most of the scientific community has reached consensus that man-made activity is playing a role in climate change. Most does not equal all.
Saunders writes:
"I know, however, that I never will be convinced that global warming is a scientific threat as long as believers put most of their energy into establishing orthodoxy and denying that reputable global-warming skeptics exist."

Sorta reminds me of those who for decades were skeptical that smoking lead to serious health problems.
Follow this link to a thought-provoking 1994 photograph. In it are tobacco company executives who raised their right hands and swore before Congress that nicotine was not addictive. Government scientists had been saying the opposite for three decades. Independent researcher suspected as much years earlier. Even further back serious scientists were sure tobacco use lead to horrible diseases, including cancer and emphysema. Yet, the tobacco industry helped fund skeptics who were skilled at casting doubt, well beyond when the scientific community had reached - ta-da -consensus.
Where do the two camps of skeptics meet up?
Author George Monbiot picks up the story:
"[W]hat I have discovered while researching this issue is that the corporate funding of lobby groups denying that manmade climate change is taking place was initiated not by Exxon, or by any other firm directly involved in the fossil fuel industry. It was started by the tobacco company Philip Morris."

Want more? Read here, here and here. (The last link is from a 1998 memo plotting the skeptics' strategy against global warming. A backgrounder on the memo is here.)

UPDATE: Chuck Bernstein of the National Environmental Trust responds:
Good job of rebutting. I see you've got a link to a memo that's posted on our site, so you probably checked out the press briefing we held on the tobacco connection; feel free to recommend it to readers.

Will do. The link is here.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Coming Friday on the editorial/op-ed pages

The Star's editorial board is examining the Forever Wild purchase of land in Coosa County and the ongoing efforts to preserve Alabama land for outdoor activities:
Forever Wild has bought nearly 10,000 acres down in Coosa County, an acquisition that will preserve not only the hills and valleys, but also the basins of Hatchet and Weoqufka creeks, two of the most beautiful streams in the state. Now the land will forever be open to hunting, hiking, horsebiking, canoeing and all sorts of outdoor recreation.
The Star also is taking a look at the life of John B. Knox, whose name is synonimous with our 1901 Constitution, a bad thing, and the Knox Concert Series, a good thing:
Like most things in life, the full story is not nearly so clear-cut. It’s unfair to be so sweeping with a family name, for at least in one instance a glint of gold rests among the tarnish.
The Knox name sits atop a cultural jewel in Anniston and its surroundings, thanks in no small part to his daughter, Carrie McClure Knox, who in the early decades of the 20th century played a key role in fostering the arts in the Model City.
And, for a third treat on Friday, we're opining about the "superbug" and what you can do to avoid it:
What are we to do? The answer, it seems, is simple. Wash your hands. Often. Thoroughly.
Clean your house, school or workplace — especially the frequently touched surfaces. A little extra attention to basic hygiene should keep you and the people around you healthy.
We'll also have columns by yours truly and James Evans, plus former Star editor Paul Rilling's monthly "Media Critic" column.

Friday's Star

Coming Friday in The Star:

The state has set an execution date for James Harvey Callahan, convicted in the 982 murder of a Jacksonville woman. His execution and that of another death-row inmate come despite federal court rulings here and elsewhere to stay executions while the Supreme Court considers a challenge to lethal injection. Matt Kasper looks at this story.

Todd South covers a rally for Oxford's football team. Supporters were set to gather at the stadium Thursday night to cheer the team on its way to play Mortimer Jordan, just days after an AHSAA ruling turned their 9-0 season into a 2-7 one with no playoff chance.

Markeshia Ricks covers the state report on domestic violence - there was a spike in cases in Calhoun County that resulted in death, five in 2006.

Andy Johns has a reminder about the upcoming time change. Will you remember to "fall back" on Sunday morning at 2 a.m.

Scenic River Trail flowing smoothly

Friday's Bobcast features the latest developments from the Alabama Scenic River Trail. Fred Couch, the brainchild of the river trail and pictured third from left, gave The Star on update on the project's progress Wednesday afternoon. He was joined by, from left, Ken Deal of Alabama Power, state Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, and Charlie Doster, who is active on the Alabama Scenic River Trail board.

Plans for a June 2008 launch are going swimmingly. Once completed, an ambitious paddler could cover 631 miles from Northeast Alabama to the Gulf of Mexico.

The Friday Bobcast will be uploaded later this evening.

UPDATE; The Friday Bobcast is online. See Gcast audio player at right. Or you can click here.

Fajita Day

What's the cure for Halloween candy overload? Meat, cheese and tortillas, naturally.

Well, that's the newsroom's plan.