Monday, December 15, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

You can find these stories in Tuesday's Anniston Star:

The governor declared proration today. What does that mean for local schools and colleges?

A jury has recommended a death sentence for Mark Dwaytt Brown, found guilty last week in a capital murder trial in Cleburne County.

We'll have coverage of the press conference today with Auburn's new coach, Gene Chizik.

Friday, December 12, 2008

This weekend in The Star

You can find these stories in this weekend's Anniston Star:

On Saturday:

A local American Legion post is donating money and toys to the Marines' Toys for Tots effort.

Spirit of Anniston sponsors "Window Wonderland" on Noble Street.

Honda announces it is cutting production at the Lincoln plant.

On Sunday:

Defense industries created a big boom for the area in recent years, but some worry the local economy is now tied to an industry that may retreat when the wars slow down.

George Smith profiles Gem Shoe Repair shop, the last business of its kind in northern Alabama.

Heflin celebrates Christmas with its downtown Parade of Lights

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thursday in The Star

You can find these stories in The Anniston Star:

President-elect Barack Obama wants to help the ailing economy by pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into the nation’s infrastructure, and Calhoun County leaders see an incomplete road begging for some of that money. We ;look at how a proposed national infrastructure project could affect the Eastern Parkway.

How will Anniston's decision to resume patrols in its police jurisdiction change things for the police department and the sheriff's office and the residents of this three-mile zone beyond the city limits? Graham Milldrum has this story.

Snow and more rain coming our way Thursday? Mike Faulk will let you know what's in the forecast and how much rain we got in a rainy Tuesday and Wednesday.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

You can find these stories in The Anniston Star on Tuesday:

Major players in McClellan development got together Monday to talk about how to move forward with growth at the former fort. Megan Nichols will have this story.

Tuesday's Anniston council meeting has a lot on its agenda. Councilmen are expected to discuss the possibility of resuming police patrols outside the city limits, City Manager George Monk's contract, make final appointments to the McClellan development board and consider moving public hearings to 5 p.m. We'll have wrap-up of the issues in advance of Tuesday's meeting.

The Anniston BOE holds a special called meeting Monday night. What did they discuss?

Sesar Perez-Mendez died because no one would call an ambulance until it was too late, according to people in the trailer park where police reported he was stabbed.Sources told The Star that Hispanic immigrants in the trailer park waited half an hour to call law enforcement to the scene, in Oxford Nov. 28 out of fear it could lead to the deportation of illegal immigrants in the community.The story brings to light political and cultural issues in that community and ones like it across the nation, experts said. Mike Faulk has this story.

Friday, December 05, 2008

This weekend in The Star

Look for these stories this weekend in The Anniston Star:

On Saturday:

Got football on your mind these days? Lots of eyes will look toward Atlanta as Saturday dawns and Alabama readies to play for the SEC championship against Florida. In Saturday's paper, Laura Tutor has an interesting take on football and the South. A little preview: "To understand football is to take a tour of the South. Its stories, its history and quirks often are metaphorically tied to a funny-shaped ball and a bunch of guys hurling themselves from one end of a flat field to another while a crowd looks on but actually does nothing."

We'll have a follow up on extradition proceedings for capital murder suspect Jesse Scheuing, arrested in Iowa Thursday and wanted in the shooting death of Sean Cook in Oxford.

We'll have photos of Anniston's Go Green Christmas parade.

Local insurance agent Mitch Hurt pleads guilty to insurance fraud.

On Sunday look for full coverage of Saturday's big football game. Will Alabama be headed for a national championship matchup?

Also, city and county leaders plan to meet Monday to name all the members of the new McClellan Development Board.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Friday's Anniston Star: All football, All the time

In Friday's Anniston Star, look for coverage of Thursday's Class 4A high school championship game between Cherokee County and UMS-Wright.
Also, a special sports section examines the similarities between Alabama's undefeated run this year and the 1992 team's undefeated run to the national championship.
It's deja vu all over again.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Thursday in The Star

You can find these stories in Thursday's Star:

The Alabama Bureau of Investigation and the FBI are looking into racially-tinged threats at a predominantly black church in Cleburne County, law-enforcement officials said Wednesday. Dan Whisenhunt will have this story.

Megan Nichols was at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston today observing training and talking with staff. We'll have a story about CDP, what they do and what impact a new incoming presidential administration could have on their operations.

In a study by the United Health Foundation, Alabama has improved its ranking among the states overall. The bad news is that we're now ranked 49th in obesity. Michael A. Bell will have this story.

We'll also be following up on the reports that Tommy Tuberville is out as Auburn coach.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

You can find these stories in Wednesday's Star:

Rep. Randy Wood on Tuesday said he would support legislation to recognize a McClellan development board, even if city and county officials don’t agree unanimously with the plan.Wood, R-Anniston, had said on Monday that he wanted every Calhoun County commissioner and Anniston city councilman to support a McClellan bill before he would push for its passage. Megan Nichols has this story.

Graham Milldrum has a story on what has become an annual holiday tradition. The Anniston Police Department will have extra patrols and undercover officers throughout the city in an effort to deter and/or catch would-be robbers.

Rick Burgess of Rick and Bubba fame speaks at Oxford High School. Dan Whisenhunt will let you know what he talked about.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

You can find these stories in Tuesday's Anniston Star:

Jacksonville holds it annual lighting ceremony. Nick Cenegy will be there and will capture the scene. We'll also have a round-up of all the upcoming local Christmas parades, letting you know when and where they will be.

County and city officials need help from local lawmakers to make sure a new McClellan development board has staying power, but two Calhoun County legislators said they would not support a McClellan bill unless every county commissioner and Anniston city councilman agrees, something unlikely to happen. Megan Nichols has this story.

A suspect is in custody in the Friday stabbing death of a man in Oxford. Graham Milldrum will follow up on this story.

A high-speed pursuit through downtown and northwestern Anniston neighborhoods ends with the arrest of two home invasion suspects. Mike Faulk has this story.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Talk amongst yourselves: Greatest Iron Bowl upsets

Weigh in here.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Thursday in The Anniston Star

You can find these stories in Thursday's Anniston Star:

It's Thanksgiving and Laura Tutor has a story about the mood around this year's holiday. With bad economic news swirling around and crashing into people's lives through lost jobs, lost homes and a creeping sense of dread, what do we have to be thankful for today? It's still an opportunity to give simple thanks.

George Smith also has his annual Thanksgiving column.

Judge Joel Laird on Wednesday told Calhoun County officials that he is pleased with their progress after taking on McClellan in August. Megan Nichols has this story.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

These are some of the stories you can find in Wednesday's Anniston Star:

The Anniston and Oxford city council meet. We'll be there to cover what is discussed and voted on. Anniston councilmen are expected to name their list of appointees a a McClellan development board.

The Coosa Valley Electric Cooperative is seeking a $24 million improvement loan. Mike Faulk looks into the grant proposal.

Are volunteer organizations that will cook and provide Thanksgiving dinners hurting in this time of economic troubles? Can they provide as much this year? Are they expecting more mouths to feed? Michael A. Bell has this story.

Coming Friday: Top 5 Iron Bowl upsets

The Star's Friday front page will feature the top five greatest upsets in Iron Bowl history.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Countdown To The Iron Bowl

This Tuesday in The Star

You can find these stories in Wednesday's Anniston Star:

BAE Systems will lay off 230 workers at its Anniston facilities. Nick Cenegy will have this story.

The Jacksonville City Council will hold two public hearings, one on the proposed vacation of Cole Drive, a needed step in building Jacksonville State University's planned new dorm and stadium expansion. Nick will attend the hearings and will report what is discussed or decided.

Megan Nichols checks in the with clean-up of McClellan. Does the county have the money from the Army? Are they up-to-date with payment and work?

Calhoun County leaders and employees this week are breaking away from their typical dress code - opting for gear that advertises their Iron Bowl allegiances.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

You can find these stories in Wednesday's Anniston Star:

By the end of its second meeting on Nov. 4, it was clear the Oxford City Council had changed after recent city elections. But what kind of change is anyone’s guess, council members say. Dan Whisenhunt takes a look at the new makeup, and possible future, of the Oxford City Council.

The Anniston City Council met Tuesday and councilmen decided to have ready their list of appointees to a joint McClellan development board with Calhoun County in one week. Megan Nichols has this story.

Clay County has applied for a hardship grant from the state Department of Education to combine Clay County and Lineville high schools into one at a new facility between Lineville and Ashland, a project estimated to cost between $17 million and $20 million. Mike Faulk has this story.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

Check out these stories in Tuesday's Anniston Star:

McClellan has been without a development board for nearly three months, and Anniston and Calhoun County have until Dec. 1 to start planning a new one. Megan Nichols looks at the progress and planning toward forming a new development board.

It's getting cold out there. Mike Faulk checks in with the weather experts to see what's in store for temperatures this week.....the verdict? It's going to be chilly.

Michael A. Bell profiles Angela Walker, the new director of the Anniston Community Education Foundation.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

You can find these stories in Tuesday's Anniston Star:

Anniston Army Depot officials signed a "community covenant" with local elected leaders, then sent folks out to clean up military cemeteries at McClellan. Nick Cenegy has this story.

Oxford Library is having a special event for Veterans Day and will have a special display on hand with historical memorabilia. Bill Edwards has this story.

Anniston Waterworks announces a rate increase. There's a public hearing about it Thursday.

Jacksonville City Council meets.

The Stop the Violence organization holds a meeting. We'll have stories on both meetings.

Friday, November 07, 2008

This weekend in The Anniston Star

You can find these stories over the weekend in The Star:

On Saturday:

Retired Lt. Col. Karl Harrison was the featured speaker at a veteran's day assembly at Pleasant Valley High. Dan Whisenhunt attended and will bring you this story.

Anniston on Thursday received the final bill from a law firm handling its now-defunct McClellan suit, but the city may have to hire another lawyer to completely dismiss it. Megan Nichols has this story.

Mike Faulk has a story about Robert Gibbs, the man likely to be President-elect Barack Obama's press secretary. Guess what? Gibbs has Alabama roots, and even some Calhoun County connections.

On Sunday:

We will have a special section on the historic election of Barack Obama as president, including reactions from local residents.

Nick Cenegy takes a look at the battle of Tallasehatchee, a critical encounter in the Creek War/War of 1812 which took place in Calhoun County. Very little has been done to mark the site or commemorate the events that took place there.

The Randolph County Commission has a Republican majority for the first time in its 176 year history. Mike Faulk has this story.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Projected surplus

A caller takes issue with a line in one of today's editorials.

Specifically, the caller did not like this passage:
Combine this with government spending that took Bill Clinton's $5 trillion surplus and turned it into a $10 trillion deficit and the financial and human costs of Iraq, and we can see how voters rejected Republican claims to be wise stewards over government dollars.

His claim is that the edit confused budget deficit and national debt. Not really, though we could have been more precise in labelling Clinton's surplus as merely projected. Our point was that Clinton handed George W. Bush a potential budget surplus in late 2000. President Bush's fiscal decisions -- big tax cuts, deficit spending on war and other matters -- erased said surplus. Without it, the nation was forced to borrow money it did not have, hence the deficit.

This is how the New York Times reported the story almost eight years ago:
The Clinton administration handed a parting gift to President-elect George W. Bush today, projecting that the federal budget surplus would swell substantially, to nearly $5 trillion, over the next decade.
Administration officials said they expected the surplus to total $4.996 trillion in the 10 years beginning with the start of the next fiscal year, on Oct. 1, 2001. That amounts to an increase of just over $800 billion from the administration's previous projection, of $4.193 trillion for the 10 years that started this October.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

You can vote however you like


Thursday, October 09, 2008

Friday in The Star

You can find these stories in Friday's Anniston Star:

Local banks say they are strong, stable and secure. The calming words are neccessary, they say, in the light of panic taking hold in the markets and amongst the public as financial turmoil roils the U.S. economy. Graham Milldrum has this story.

On Thursday, the city of Anniston for the second time asked a federal judge to put McClellan back in its control. The city at the same time withdrew an earlier motion that sought to insert the city into the lawsuit between the Environmental Chemical Corporation, a contractor that formerly cleaned up unexploded ordnance at McClellan, and the former Joint Powers Authority. Dan Whisenhunt will have this story.

Dan also has this story: Two local legislators told the Calhoun County Commission at its regular meeting Thursday that they have asked the state attorney general and the governor’s office to look into local gas shortages and prices.

Republicans running for state office rode into Anniston on Thursday, wielding big signs and staunch opinions.Calhoun was the 38th county on a bus tour of all the state’s 67 counties, called the Hometown Connection. Thursday’s event took place in the parking lot of the City Meeting Center. Mike Faulk will let you know what they had to say.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Thursday in The Star

You can find these stories in Thursday's Anniston Star:

It actually rained Wednesday. How much did we get? How is our drought status? Graham Milldrum will have this story.

Nick Cenegy looks into the process for getting bonds for the proposed work on the stadium/dorm project at Jacksonville State University.

Randolph County authorities are looking for cattle rustlers who have stolen dozens of animals in recent weeks. Mike Faulk has this story.

Alberta Cooley McCrory won Hobson City’s mayor’s race in August, defeating incumbent Ralph Woods. Now Woods says he will contest McCrory’s eligibility in court because of questions about her residency. Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

Check out these stories in Tuesday's Star:

We'll have a rundown of the runoff elections taking place Tuesday.

A farmer in Eastaboga has seen nine of his goats killed in the past week. He's determined to figure out what it is that's been killing them. Michael Bell has this story.

The city of Jacksonville's finance committee has approved a budget, to be sent to the City Council for approval. Nick Cenegy has this story.

The Lincoln City Council was split down the middle Monday over whether the city should build water and sewer lines for a new apartment complex without knowing what it will cost to build the lines. Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

We'll have complete runoff election coverage coming online and for Wednesday's paper and will also be hosting a live chat on the elections and the second presidential debate Tuesday night. Check it out at

Friday, October 03, 2008

This weekend in The Star

Coming up this weekend in The Anniston Star:

On Saturday:
We'll have full coverage of the races at Talladega, and Mike Faulk also polls attendees about who they are favoring in another race - the presidential one.

We take a look at two more local runoff elections scheduled for Tuesday -the Weaver mayoral race and the Anniston City Council Place 2 race - with the election just days away, and one of the two candidates for the City Council’s Ward 2 seat apparently disqualified, it was still unknown Friday what would become of ballots cast in the race.

Michael Bell has a look at the issue of radon - much of eastern Alabama is at a higher risk for radon exposure than other areas of the state. What is it and what can residents do about it?

On Sunday:

Megan Nichols takes a comprehensive look at McClellan. It's been nearly 10 years since the Army shut the fort. A lot has happened since then, but redevelopment at the old post is a long way from done. Now, a series of events threatens to delay work there. We'll check in with development efforts and where they stand currently.

Along with full sports coverage, Nick Cenegy will be at the Talladega Superspeedway, too. He'll spend some time with law enforcement officials to see what they do there.

Graham Milldrum visited with the ministry program at the Calhoun County Jail.

And on Monday:

Birmingham Mayor Larry Langford visits Anniston Sunday. Nick will have a story on what he had to say.

Cleburne County's Fruithurst Elementary is the subject of a new study funded by the Alabama Farmers Federation. Kids there do well, despite having 70 percent of its students on free or reduced lunch. The education study will examine how the Cleburne County school along with nine other rural schools in the state, can buck the trend that says poor students score low.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Segall vs. Rogers new polling data

The latest 3rd congressional district polling is out from Capital Survey Research Center, the polling arm of the Alabama Education Association.

The poll of 471 likely voters was taken Sept. 30 through Oct. 1. Its margin of error is plus or minus 4.5 percentage points.

If the election for your Congressman were today, for whom would you vote between:
Mike Rogers, Republican 44.9%
Josh Segall, Democrat 36.4%
Don't Know/No Reply/Other 18.7%

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

ABC's Nightline comes to Anniston

The story focuses on a charity fashion show and touches on feelings about presidential politics.
The report has not aired, but is online.
The link is here.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Wall-E on the bailout

The editorial board's description of what Congress is about to do:

Update: Now we need a ta-daaah do-over.

A Marxist tidal wave?

A reader writes:
Anyone at the "page" willing and capable of debunking the article cited below such that a simple mind can understand? Some alarming flags have been raised/created by having read same? Hopefully someone can address the article with facts to refute it quickly. Would appreciate an article soon on the "page" since it would be very timely considering the "Bail Out Legislation" being penned as of this date."

The American Thinker story is here.

It concludes:
Barack Obama ... no matter how he describes himself, has been a radical activist for most of his political career.That activism has been in support of organizations and initiatives that at their heart seek to tear the pillars of this nation asunder in order to replace them with their demented socialist vision. Their influence has spread so far and so wide that despite their blatant culpability in the current financial crisis, they are able to manipulate Capital Hill politicians to cut them into $140 billion of the bailout pie!
God grant those few responsible yet remaining in Washington, DC the strength to prevent this massive fraud from occurring. God grant them the courage to stand up in the face of this Marxist tidal wave.

Where to start in the face of a "Marxist tidal wave?"

Having played so many unsuccessful cards against the Obama candidacy, his opponents are getting nervous. The usual hot-buttons have been hit - faith, patriotism, race, soft on war and crime. None have worked as well as in previous election cycles. Obama also bested a formidable political machine during the D primaries; it too tried a few of these tactics. It seems many Americans are well past guilt-by-association ploys, red-baiting and the like.

Still, points to the American Thinker for gamely pushing on. I'm sure if the author's side loses in November this sort of hit job will become commonplace. Recall that 1992's election produced the "Arkansas Project," where a millionaire sunk millions into the smearing for a Democratic president.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A personal story re Larry Munson

Today's editorial tribute to Georgia football announcer Larry Munson reminds me of a story.

I was interning at CNN Sports in the mid-1980s. Through my bosses there I got a job as a go-fer as a sportscasting camp. One job was looking after the guest speakers - setting them up in the green room, fetching coffee and snacks, and generally making them comfortable.

I recall meeting Larry Munson in the parking lot on his day to speak with the sportscasting wannabes. I introduced myself, told him how much time we had before he spoke and then asked if he needed anything on that early Sunday morning.

He turned to me and said in that same voice that thrilled UGA fans, "A cup of coffee. My Gawd, I need a cup of coffee." It was a magic moment.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thursday in The Star

You can find these stories in Thursday's Anniston Star:

A memorial to the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks at the Pentagon will be dedicated there Thursday. Jacksonville's Pearl Williams, whose son was killed there in 2001, is going to the dedication. Nick Cenegy will have this story.

Nathaniel Owens, a local attorney, will be inducted into the Sewanee Athletic Hall of Fame in Tennessee. Owens was the first black varsity athlete at the school. Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

Megan Nichols looks at the make-up of the new Anniston City Council. There's a new mayor and at least two new city councilmen. What direction does the new council want to go?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Check out these stories in Wednesday's Anniston Star:

There's been a challenge filed against Anniston council runoff candidate David Reddick, claiming he didn't file finance records on time. He says he didn't meet the expense threshold to have to file a report. Megan Nichols will have this story.

Cotton farmers statewide are getting ready to harvest around the first week of October, but even as crop conditions appear to have improved from the drought, the cost of production versus profit is driving some farmers to give up on the legendary crop. Mike Faulk will check in with some local cotton farmers to see what their thoughts, and plans are.

Derek Raulerson will be a new face on the Jacksonville City Council. Nick Cenegy profiles the new council member.

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons will kick off Knox Concert Series Thursday night.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

Check out these stories in Tuesday's Anniston Star:

A judge’s move to dissolve the McClellan Joint Powers Authority may delay redevelopment efforts at the former fort.Title insurance companies could be avoiding selling policies at McClellan because of perceived instability at the former fort. Megan Nichols will have this story.

John Fleming's column looks to the Wiregrass in this election season - could the reliably Republican region be leaning back to the left?

The Jacksonville and Lincoln city councils meet.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Check out these stories in Thursday's Star:

We'll have part four of the series on TCE - this part examines the potential impact on drinking water in wells near the Anniston Army Depot.

Dan Whisenhunt looks at the numbers of minority employees of the city of Oxford. This was a topic that came up during the Star-sponsored candidate forum.

Nick Cenegy looks into how a write-in campaign works, as Ray Bryan says he will mount one for the circuit court judgeship.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Coming Wednesday in The Star:

Michael Bell reports from the Gulf coast as evacuees from Hurricane Gustav breathe a big sigh of relief, happy to be heading home soon.

Graham Milldrum checks in with the evacuees staying at the shelter at Grace Baptist Church in Oxford.

We'll have a profile of Anniston's mayor-elect, Gene Robinson and a profile of circuit court judge candidate Brenda Stedham.

Part three of the TCE series looks at what it is like to work around it and what is being done to keep workers at the Anniston Army Depot safe.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Coming this weekend

In Saturday's paper, we'll have coverage of the first full night of HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL for 2008. We'll also preview college football Saturday for Alabama and Auburn.

In Sunday's paper, we'll begin a multi-part report on the threat of trichloroethylene, or TCE, at the Anniston Army Depot and what Army officials are doing to reduce the toxic degreaser's impact on the environment.

In Monday's paper, we'll have part 2 of the TCE series, and we'll have an in-depth profile of Gene Robinson, mayor-elect for the city of Anniston.

Have a great weekend.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

You can find these stories in Tuesday's Anniston Star:

We'll have full coverage of the storms that swept through eastern Calhoun County, including damage reports.

Megan Nichols takes a look at what's next following a judge's ruling dissolving the McClellan Joint Powers Authority.

John Fleming talks with Lilly Ledbetter, the Jacksonville woman who took her fight against pay discrimination all the way to the Supreme Court. She'll be speaking at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday.

Don't forget to vote on Tuesday!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Friday in The Star

You can find these stories in Friday's Star:

Water levels in area lakes and rivers are still down from the drought. How is this affecting local folks? Mike Faulk will have this story.

Dan Whisenhunt looks into an ad run by Oxford City Council candidate Jerry Sparks.

Wellborn Cabinet lays off 169 workers due to the struggling housing market.

We'll have roundups of the upcoming city elections in Jacksonville and Lincoln.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

You can find these stories in Wednesday's Anniston Star:

For many years, the post exchange building on Fort McClellan served as the soldier’s modern day Target and Winn-Dixie, with an eye-glass repair shop right around the corner. Now, officials with Intellimed Solutions are transforming the facility into a sprawling medical mall – a be-all, end-all for health care. Michael Bell will have this story.

The Anniston Community Education Foundation will host an election forum Tuesday night. Megan Nichols will be there and will let you know what was discussed.

Volunteers held a fundraiser for Hobson City, with a special guest: David Satcher, former Surgeon General of the United States and Anniston native. Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Check out these stories in Thursday's Star:

We spend some time with a senior's group in Jacksonville at their weekly gospel singing. They were meeting at the city's new senior center, which opened on Monday. Nick Cenegy has this story.

Folks in the Saks neighborhood of Indian Oaks are organizing a neighborhood watch. Graham Milldrum has this story.

Dan Whisenhunt has a round-up of the mayoral candidates in Lincoln.

Mike Faulk has a follow-up story on absentee ballots in the Randolph County Commission Democratic primary.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Check out these stories in Wednesday's Anniston Star:

Oxford has declared its schools "nut-free zones" apparently to avoid danger for students with peanut allergies. Michael Bell has this story.

Michael will also have a story about efforts to increase truancy enforcement.

The Anniston and Oxford city councils meet.

There are candidate forums coming up in Jacksonville, Piedmont and Oxford, we'll tell you the details of these events.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Coming Thursday in The Star

Check out these stories in Thursday's Anniston Star:

As the first day of school dawns, we run down the list of new principals in local schools and take a look at school lunch costs - rising food prices are causing challenges to the area's school lunchrooms, bumping up the cost to families and leading schools to ask the federal government for more money. Meanwhile tougher state regulations are requiring schools to offer healthier food on the table each day.

A Calhoun County cemetery dating to perhaps 1810 has been added to a state register of historic cemeteries. Hannah Dame has this story.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Check out these stories in Thursday's Star.

We've got a chart showing some of the stats on the upcoming Woodstock 5K.

The Anniston area has had significantly more rain so far this year than at the same time last year, though rainfall is still below normal according to an official at the National Weather Service in Birmingham. Mike Faulk will have this story.

A recent study says AIDS is still on the rise in the Southeast, while it declines in much of the counrty. Advocates fighting the disease say their effort suffers from a lack of attention and government resources. Hannah Dame will have this story.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Coming Wednesday in The Star:

The Meals of Mercy program, housed at The Bridge at the First United Methodist Church in Anniston and the Anniston Soup Bowl say they're seeing increased demand. What about other progams that feed the hungry? Alex Scarborough-Anderson takes a look at this issue.

George Smith has a profile of O.A. Gardner, who served as the first principal of Walter Wellborn High School. Now 98, he still stays busy.

Dan Whisenhunt got a look at some of the finanical documents which were presented to the Oxford City Council recently. He'll have a story about what they contain.

Friday, July 18, 2008

This weekend in The Star

Check out The Anniston Star for these stories:

On Saturday:

Nick Cenegy follows up on any new developments in Wednesday's bank robbery.

An Anniston contingent traveled this week to a lead-contaminated Idaho town seeking ideas about how Anniston can monitor its own environmentally remediated properties in the future. Megan Nichols has this story.

On Sunday:

John Fleming profiles Josh Segall, the Democratic challenger in the race to represent Alabama's Third Congressional District.

The FBI says bank robberies are on the rise in Alabama, while decreasing nationwide. Nick Cenegy will have this story.

JSU hosted a workshop to train high school students as mentors for their classmates when school resumes. Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

On Monday:

Teachers get fresh training in the math, science and technology initiative that education leaders hope will lead to improvements in students' skills and better test scores. Dan will have this story.

Alex Scarborough-Anderson will cover former Crimson Tide star Siran Stacy's visit to Meadowbrook Baptist Church.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Friday in The Star

Check out Friday's Star for these stories:

We'll have a follow-up on the bank robbery and kidnapping, looking for any new developments. The FBI has named one suspect they are looking for and Wachovia Bank is offering a $10,000 reward for information.

A new study by the Justice Department suggests as many as three in every 100 inmates at jails across the country are victims of sexual violence, a problem local law enforcement agencies say they must remain vigilant to combat. Graham Milldrum has this story.

Graham will also have a story on the Dixie Youth Baseball state tourney. Local organizers are taking the personal approach to being good hosts. They're identifying local families to pair with those visiting from around the state.

Regional Medical Center holds its annual cancer survivors celebration. Alex Scarborough-Anderson will be there and will have a story on the event which draws hundreds of cancer survivors.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Check out Thursday's Anniston Star for these stories:

Police are seeking two men who allegedly robbed an Anniston bank, then kidnapped two women from a Lenlock home, forcing the women to drive the suspects to Gadsden, where they let the women go. Nick Cenegy will have this story and Megan Nichols will have a story looking at reaction from the neighborhood.

Andy Johns will have a list on the folks who are running in municipal elections in the surrounding counties.

The housing-renovation volunteer charity group makes its annual visit to town with about 300 volunteers. Megan will have this story.

Dan Whisenhunt looks at the Dixie Youth Baseball tournament beginning this weekend in Anniston. The tournament is expected to lots of kids and their families to town, filling hotels and the field at McClellan.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

Check out Tuesday's Star for these stories:

With the rising cost of gas, are auto repair shops seeing more repairs to older cars? Graham Milldrum takes a look at this issue.

Nick Cenegy has a roundup of upcoming court trials.

The JSU Board of Trustees met and announced $1 million in cuts because of budget issues. Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

Anniston got more than two inches of rain on Sunday. That's good news as we're in the midst of a drought. Andy Johns will have this story.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Friday in The Star

Check out Friday's Anniston Star for these stories:

Developers are planning a professional office park in Alexandria, to house doctors, dentists, accountants and perhaps a bank branch. How does this fit into the development already occuring along 431 in this growing community? Nick Cenegy has this story.

Alex Scarborough-Anderson takes a look at the Calhoun County drug rehab center and its success rate. They say they have seen a good success rate: very few graduates of the prorgam have resurfaced in the justice system with drug problems.

We've got the results of the Anniston City Council's evaluation of the city manager. Megan Nichols will let you know what they had to say.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Oxford Mayor Leon Smith said he will charge City Council members $2 per page for financial reports. Does he have the authority to do that? What does state law say? Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

Hannah Dame looks into another bad side of the home foreclosure trends: pets abandoned by their owners along with their homes. Are our shelters - already full - filling up with animals like these?

The former owner of an Oxford insurance company is out on bond after his July 2 arrest on 14 counts of theft. A co-defendant, also indicted in the case, has not yet been arrested. Nick Cenegy has this story.

Megan Nichols will have this story: The JPA has planned for several years to construct a road that would connect the Eastern Parkway to Alabama 21 via Iron Mountain Road. JPA Vice-Chairman and Anniston Mayor Chip Howell said work on the road could begin as early as next year

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Check out these stories in Wednesday's Anniston Star:

On the heels of the contested family court judge election, Nick Cenegy takes a look at the rules surrounding candidates who file contribution reports late.

JSU has announced the contractor who will take over its child development center at McClellan. Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

The Fight Back Express was in town, spreading its message of the need for increased funding in the fight against cancer. Graham Milldrum has this story.

George Smith has a profile of A.G. Baggett.

Monday, July 07, 2008

From a reader in Massachusetts

Like most daily newspapers, The Star receives feedback and comments from its readers on a consistent basis. It's part of the lifeblood of any good publication.

Recently, The Star received a letter to the editor from a former Calhoun County resident who now lives in Massachusetts. His desire was to tell young residents of Hobson City and other parts of the county that getting an education and working hard was critical to their futures.

Here's his letter, which we printed last week:

To Calhoun County's youth: Keep the American dream alive

I was born in Hobson City and attended Calhoun County Training School, receiving an excellent education. My places of employment were both in Anniston and Oxford. Prior to retirement as a clinical social worker, I was a drug and alcoholism counselor for district court programs, hospitals and residential mental health programs.

I served four years in the U.S. Navy and was also employed as a federal civil service employee with the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, D.C.

This letter is to encourage the youth of Anniston, Oxford and Hobson City and nearby areas to devote the full measure to their education and service to the country, and they, too, will enjoy keeping "The American Dream" alive.

Now at age 72 1/2, I am so very, very proud of the early education that I received that gave me the greatest foundation to become a productive citizen.

Levi M. Wright
Worcester, Mass.

And here's the letter we received from Mr. Wright today:

To whom it may concern:

This brief note is to thank the staff at The Anniston Star for printing my letter so promptly. Today I received three very positive telephone calls from citizens in Hobson City.

I shall remain forever grateful,

Levi M. Wright

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Center for Responsible Lending responds to critics of predatory series

Leslie Parrish, a senior researcher from the Center for Responsible Lending, responds to the previous post outlining complaints from a pro-indsustry group, Borrow Smart Alabama.

Payday lenders can no longer market their worst products to military families because the Department of Defense went to Congress and asked for the 36% interest rate cap, testifying that payday lending was the worst financial problem for their troops in a hundred years and that it was affecting our nation's readiness for war.
In 2006, the Military Lending Act (MLA) limiting interest rates on small loans to 36% annual interest for active duty military members and their families was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bush. This law took effect October 1, 2007.
The MLA was introduced out of concern by the Department of Defense that servicemembers were being targeted by payday lenders and other financial predators lining bases. The Defense Department was especially worried about servicemembers losing their security clearances because of the high level of indebtedness to these lenders, and its effects on troop deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Wall Street Journal published an article on high-cost lenders preying on elderly populations earlier this year. As a result of this and other concerns, the Social Security Administration recently held a comment period to address the extent to which Social Security benefits were being taken to repay these loans. In addition, the House Ways and Means Committee held a hearing yesterday on this subject.
The industry says that payday loans are not "conducive" to people on fixed incomes, but that doesn’t stop them from marketing them. The debt trap is particularly hard for those on a fixed income to escape, because they can't work another job or extra hours to pay off their payday debt.
In North Carolina, a 69-year-old man had been in an Advance America loan for five years - it was a loan of about $300 flipped repeatedly first on every payday for his job as a warehouse worker and then once a month when he received his Social Security benefits. He paid over $5,000 in fees for this loan and was referred to the Center for Responsible Lending by his bankruptcy attorney.
We compiled demographic information reported by the industry and state regulators on payday borrowers and found that payday borrowers are more likely to be:
- below median income, with a significant portion of borrowers earning less than $25,000
-African-American or Latino

Further, payday lenders advertise themselves as helping folks who have nowhere else to turn and a lack of other options. They defend their high fees by noting that their borrowers cannot get conventional credit.

You say (via CRL): Short term lenders are "allowed to charge the equivalent of 456 percent interest."
Under the Truth in Lending Act, the Federal Reserve requires an annual percentage rate (APR) to be disclosed on loans of any term—whether for one day or 100 years. The goal of this law is to allow consumers to more readily compare loans of differing terms to determine which best suits their needs. For example, using APR, a consumer can see the price differences between a two week payday loan, six month installment loan, or an open-ended credit card cash advance on an "apples to apples basis." Under federal law, payday loans must carry an APR disclosure.
As Borrow Smart Alabama notes, payday loans can be for terms of 10 to 31 days in this state, with the term generally depending whether the borrower is paid once or twice a month. Nationally, the average payday loan is for two weeks. APRs for a 10, 14, and 31 day loan term are calculated below. CRL’s calculation of APR is consistent with how this measure is described in federal law and in payday lending applications.
APR on a loan with a $17.50 fee per $100 borrowed, by loan term

10 day term (min. loan term) 639%
14 day term (typical loan term) 456%
31 day term (max. loan term) 206%

Unfortunately, because overdraft fees are not considered an extension of credit, and therefore not covered under the Truth in Lending Act, banks do not have to disclose an APR for this service. We are in favor of having an APR disclosure apply to this product as well, as we believe that this is also an extension of credit.

Background on CRL and Self-Help Credit UnionThe Center for Responsible Lending is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research and policy organization dedicated to protecting homeownership and family wealth by working to eliminate abusive financial practices. CRL is affiliated with Self-Help, one of the nation's largest community development financial institutions.
Since 1980, Self-Help has helped over 60,000 borrowers buy homes, build small businesses, and strengthen communities in North Carolina and around the country. Self-Help was recognized as one of twelve high-impact U.S. nonprofits in the book Forces for Good, along with other organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, The Heritage Foundation, Teach for America, National Council of La Raza and YouthBuild USA.
Self-Help has never offered payday loans and does not benefit from CRL’s advocacy work in this area. Contrary to payday lending industry charges, Self-Help cannot profit from the shutdown of payday lending in states such as Georgia, Arkansas, New Hampshire, Oregon, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, etc…not only does Self-Help not offer payday loans, it does not make consumer loans in any of these states. In addition, Self-Help does not engage in high-cost overdraft loan programs of which the payday loan industry and CRL are critical.
The Center for Responsible Lending’s research is well-respected. The Federal Reserve Board notes that "CRL has produced ground-breaking research on the subprime mortgage market and has been a key advocate for state and federal protections that reasonably balance consumer interests with the goal of increasing sustainable homeownership with affordable loans."

A typical borrower pays back $793 in fees and interest to a payday lending, all
for the privilege of receiving $325 in cash

The payday industry has misled the public and policymakers about the nature of their product since it was conceived. The two-week loan is a myth, payday loans are closed and re-opened repeatedly even in states where immediate renewals are illegal.

Looking at state regulator data (including that supplied by Veritec Inc, which contracts with select states to collect data), we found that: (1) the average payday borrower took out nine loans every year; (2) the average loan size was $325 and (3) the average fee for this size of loan was $52.

While most states ban a direct renewal of payday loans, in which a borrower pays a fee to extend the loan out another two weeks, lenders routinely circumvent this law by what are called "back-to-back" transactions. With this type of transaction, the borrower pays back the loan and its fee and then—often before they even leave the store—they re-borrow the same amount from the lender. While this is not technically a renewal, it serves the same purpose for both the borrower and the lender.

Looking at data from Veritec, we found that most payday lending operates in this manner. A borrower pays back the loan, then takes out another within the same pay period, and often at their first opportunity, as evidenced in reports from Oklahoma and Florida. Back-to-back transactions are not providing borrowers with new credit; instead, they are a clever way to rollover a loan without falling under the legal definition of a renewal.

If an initial $325 loan with a $52 fee is taken and then renewed 8 times (a total of nine loans), then the borrower would pay back $793 ($325 in principal and $468 in fees).

Other research on the benefits/costs to payday lending
Donald Morgan, a staffer at the New York Federal Reserve, has drafted two working papers dealing with payday lending over the past few years. Neither has been published, nor are their findings endorsed by the Federal Reserve. The report finding North Carolina and Georgia residents bounced more checks, filed complaints with the FTC more often, and filed for bankruptcy more after payday lenders left has significant methodological problems. For example, the authors note that bankruptcy rates increased in Georgia after payday lenders left relative to the national average. However, other factors such as unemployment, divorce, or health care coverage which differ between states. The returned check data used to report increases for Georgia and North Carolina after payday lending was banned includes not only these two states, but also returned checks from Alabama, Louisiana, South Carolina, southern Mississippi, and Tennessee—states where payday lending is legal. The authors did not separate out Georgia and North Carolina-specific data from these others states which allow payday lending.

Overall, because payday borrowers make up a small portion of the overall population, it is somewhat dubious to expect large shifts in statewide data such as bankruptcy or bounced check rates if one particular credit option is removed.

Other research that looks at the experiences of actual payday borrowers yields far different results. Two economists—Paige Skiba of Vanderbilt and Jeremy Tobacman of Oxford—were granted access to several years of payday borrower data from one of the nation’s largest lenders. They found that taking out payday loans increased the chances of bankruptcy among borrowers, as compared to similarly-situated households who did not take a payday loan. In addition, the North Carolina Banking Commissioner asked UNC to do a study of the effects of the payday lending ban in that state. Researchers at UNC found that residents—including former payday borrowers—were glad that these loans were no longer available.
"[T]his problem with predatory lending, with payday lending, is the most serious single financial problem that we have encountered in [one] hundred years." Admiral Charles Abbot, Pres., Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society at the Senate Banking Committee hearing on Pentagon’s report on predatory lending, Sept. 14, 2006

Industry responds to predatory series

We've heard plenty of reaction to The Star's weeklong series on predatory lending.

A spokeswoman from Borrow Smart Alabama, an industry group, contacted the newspaper early last week.
She wrote a lengthy response to the first installment. Above this post is a post with the response from the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), a predatory lending watchdog.

From Robin Oliver of Borrow Smart Alabama:
You say: "Their prey tends to be the working poor, the military, seniors, those on fixed incomes, without access to conventional credit."
The truth: The average payday loan customer is 39 years old with an average income of $41,000. Lenders do not “prey” on customers at all, and our loans are not typically conducive to seniors or to people on fixed incomes. Furthermore, following a federal law passed in 2007, short term lenders do not lend to people in the military or their families at all. Prior to the passing of this law, they made up an insignificant portion of our customers in Alabama. Last but not least, most of our customers have access to traditional loans and/or credit cards but choose not to use them because they prefer a small, short term loan to meet their needs. For proof, see the testimonials of some of our real customers at

You say (via CRL): Short term lenders are "allowed to charge the equivalent of 456 percent interest."
This interest rate is calculated by taking the fee associated with a two-week loan and multiplying that amount by 26 periods in a year. However, in the state of Alabama, a loan can only be renewed once. So, this calculation is extremely off base. Further, the state allows for loans of up to 31 days, which significantly reduces your quoted APR rate. So, these are short term loans typically of two weeks to a month. Applying an annual rate for a short-term loan is quite misleading. Bank overdraft fees, which often exceed $30, or credit card overdraft fees are not described with an APR rate and neither should a short-term payday loan. By any measurement, a $100 a payday loan in Alabama is much less expensive than a bounced check, or a credit card overdraft fee or less than paying $50 to $60 to have utilities restored because of a missed payment. Our customers know this. That is one reason why they choose short-term lending options like a payday loan over the more expensive alternatives. By the way, it should also be stated that the Center for Responsible Lending, which devised this calculation, is funded by a large credit union and a competitor of the short term lending industry. That should be disclosed.

You say (via CRL): "A typical borrower pays back $793 in fees and interest to a payday lending, all for the privilege of receiving $325 in cash."
This is an outright lie on the part for the Center for Responsible Lending. The maximum amount a borrower would pay for a $325 loan is $ $56.88. The State of Alabama does not allow more than one extension on a cash advance and the fee associated with the loan cannot exceed 17.5% percent. Veritec Solutions LLC, the company which supplied the data for the original Center for Responsible Lending report that included this figure, has said in a white paper analysis that CRL misinterpreted the data in order to generate flawed conclusions.

You say: "Short term lenders post revenue of about $6 billion a year."
Compare that to annual revenue of about $480 billion for commercial banks, $84 billion for savings banks and $36 billion for credit unions.

You say: "North Carolina, for example, capped interest rates at 36 percent, becoming one of the 12 states to essentially outlaw payday lending’s excessive fees and interest. Georgia similarly restricts it. … the CRL found that residents saved an estimated $1.4 billion in fees every year."
An independent report issued by the Federal Reserve late in 2007 concluded that consumers in NC and GA “do not seem better off since their states outlawed payday credit.” The report indicates that residents did not save money but ended up paying the anticipated savings and more to banks in overdraft charges and late charges to credit cards. Check it out online at

Robin Oliver
Director of Communications
Borrow Smart Alabama

The CRL's response is on the post above.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

You can find these stories in Wednesday's Anniston Star:

Nick Cenegy advances the state Republican party's executive committee hearing regarding Ray Bryan and the circuit court judge election.

Vacant lots have taken the place of dilapidated structures all over Anniston, as the city has ramped up its nuisance demolition program. Megan Nichols has this story.

A Georgia Kia auto plant will use metal pallets and racks to be made by a Korean company in Wedowee. Andy Johns has this story.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Check out Tuesday's Anniston Star for these stories:

At 12 a.m. Tuesday, the territory covered by Anniston’s short-staffed police department shrank, while the area covered by Calhoun County Sheriff’s Deputies grew. Several areas that have long relied on the city for protection will no longer be patrolled by Anniston police, including Saks, Golden Springs around Choccolocco Road, Central City, West 14th Street near the Thankful community, and Wellborn.Calls in the former police jurisdiction outside Anniston’s city limits are now handled by the Sheriff’s Office. Dan Whisenhunt will have this story and will explain what the change means for residents.

A Jefferson County judge Monday put the pending decertification of local lawyer Ray Bryan on hold so he can review the case and make a judgment by the end of the week. Nick Cenegy will have this story.

There's a neighborhood meeting planned to discuss the future of the homes at Noble Park, the historic houses next to Anniston High School. Hannah Dame will be there and will report on what was discussed.

Friday, June 27, 2008

This weekend in The Star

Check out The Anniston Star this weekend for these stories:

On Saturday:

An Anniston High School parent is getting students and parents involved in the community and trying to get the community involved in the school. He's formed two new support groups for parents. Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

An 18-wheeler crashed off a bridge in Ohatchee Friday morning, killing two people. Andy Johns will have this story.

Andy will also have this story: The Randolph County District Attorney’s office will investigate complaints of voter fraud in a county commission primary race.

On Sunday:

Megan Nichols takes a look of the issues facing Anniston as an election approaches. What do current council members and candidates think about it?

The Weaver Police Department recently got a new Dodge Charger, one of the first to go into services locally. With Ford discontinuing the once-standard Crown Victoria, many departments are deputizing new types of vehicles. Nick Cenegy looks at the changing police car through history.

Dan Whisenhunt will visit the Piedmont Freedom Festival and Camp Fasola in Anniston.

And on Monday:

Drought conditions have improved and there is no burn ban, but fireworks can still be dangerous. How are sales this year compared to last? Andy will look at this story in advance of the fourth of July.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Friday in The Star

Check out these stories in Friday's Anniston Star:

We'll check in with the old Calhoun Theater in downtown Anniston. Is there any movement on on a plan to do anything with it? Hannah Dame has this story.

We'll also check in with the status of summer nutrition programs for kids.

Alex Scarbourough-Anderson writes about local reaction to the Supreme Court decision on gun ownership. The Court struck down a Washington, D.C., law that prohibited handguns in the city. What do local folks think about the ruling?

The latest visitors to the Carver Branch Library's summer reading program are the JSU drama department who encourage reading and show the kids how words can be put into action. Alex also has this story.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Coming Thursday in The Anniston Star:

Judicial candidate Ray Bryan hosted a press conference on the courthouse steps over the election he won earlier this month. Nick Cenegy was there and will let you know what was said.

There are new plaintiffs being added to a lawsuit against the Anniston board of education over the way it hired Superintendent Joan Frazier. Dan Whisenhunt will have this story.

Jacksonville gets quiet in the summertime when all the students head out of town. What do locals think about the summer calm? Alex Scarborough-Anderson will check in with folks in Jacksonville about the summer months.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

You can find these stories in Tuesday's Anniston Star:

It's been awhile since we've had any substantial rain. Is the drought worsening again? Hannah Dame has this story.

Local attorney Ray Bryan may not become circuit judge, despite having won the June primary election, according to state Republican Party officials. Alabama Republican Party Executive Director John Ross said the party’s candidates committee has moved to decertify Bryan for failure to file forms required by the state’s Fair Campaign Practices Act. Nick Cenegy will have this story.

The Anniston City Council has on its agenda tomorrow night a few education issues: one calls for a referendum on a measure allowing the city to spend money on NextStart scholarships. The other calls for redirecting money it already gives the Anniston City Schools Foundation if the board of that group is not reconstituted. Dan Whisenhunt will preview what's on the meeting agenda.

Nick will be at the Stop the Violence meeting tonight. What will be discussed at the meeting?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer approaches ...

... and burgers and dogs are hitting the grill for the Star newsroom's weekly feasts.
Yum, almost time for lunch.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thursday in The Star

You can find these stories in Thursday's Anniston Star:

The U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee has proposed a 2009 budget that doesn't cut the CDP's budget by 25 percent. There's a hearing tomorrow. Megan Nichols has this story.

Megan also looks into efforts to get film incentives passed in the state, a move that could benefit McClelllan.

Dan Whisenhunt profiles a Jacksonville High School program that allows seniors to conduct independent studies or enroll in college part time.

Dan also checks in with the status of expanding career tech programs in Anniston.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

These are some of the stories you can find in Wednesday's Anniston Star:

Nick Cenegy has a follow-up on the 28 drug indictments we covered in yesterday's Star.

A project to turn a rail spur into a connection from McClellan to the Chief Ladiga Trail could be delayed. The rail line is jointly owned by the JPA and the city was to manage the bidding process for removal of the tracks. But now the JPA is not sure it is satisfied with the bids. Megan Nichols has this story.

One Randolph County Commission candidate is contesting results in this month's primary election. The difference was seven votes. Andy Johns has this story.

Ode to a copy editor

Monday's New York Times editorial page included a piece by Lawrence Downes, In a Changing World of News, an Elegy for Copy Editors.
Downes' ode to copy editors included this:
As for what they do, here’s the short version: After news happens in the chaos and clutter of the real world, it travels through a reporter’s mind, a photographer’s eye, a notebook and camera lens, into computer files, then through multiple layers of editing. Copy editors handle the final transition to an ink-on-paper object. On the news-factory floor, they do the refining and packaging. They trim words, fix grammar, punctuation and style, write headlines and captions.
But they also do a lot more. Copy editors are the last set of eyes before yours. They are more powerful than proofreaders. They untangle twisted prose. They are surgeons, removing growths of error and irrelevance; they are minimalist chefs, straining fat. Their goal is to make sure that the day’s work of a newspaper staff becomes an object of lasting beauty and excellence once it hits the presses.

Reading those words early Monday morning, one name came to mind: Alan Cochrum, a copy editor at the Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram, at least he will be until Friday. According to an e-mail he sent me this morning, Alan is a victim of recent cuts at the McClatchy Newspaper chain, which owns the Star-Telegram.
I worked with Alan several years at the Fort Worth newspaper. He was exacting about prose, searching out and destroying poorly written copy. The old joke about copy editors is that they tend to pose revelatory questions like, "Does anal retentive have a hyphen?" Yep, that's Alan.
But he often saved the newspaper from embarrassing mistakes. He once caught a guest columnist (who would later become a Bush administration political appointee - naturally) plagiarizing a little-known passage by C.S. Lewis. Commas, and their placement, were very important to Alan. He took the job of guarding over newspaper copy (read: stories) very seriously. He took it to a level that often frustrated the rest of us, even those who love the language and its proper usage. Still, it's a valuable service. One done with equal fervor by many hard-working journalists here at The Star.
The Times' Downes concluded Monday:
As newspapers lose money and readers, they have been shedding great swaths of expensive expertise. They have been forced to shrink or eliminate the multiply redundant levels of editing that distinguish their kind of journalism from what you find on TV, radio and much of the Web. Copy editors are being bought out or forced out; they are dying and not being replaced.

With the news of Alan's pending departure from the newspaper he worked at for 20 years, that passage has more poignancy Tuesday than it did Monday.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

You can find these stories in Tuesday's Anniston Star:

Federal prosecutors and Calhoun County law enforcement agencies announced this morning that a four-year undercover investigation netted 26 people for alleged involvement in an Anniston and Oxford area drug ring. Two more have been charged but are still at large.

Megan Nichols checks in with City Manager George Monk. He told her last week that he was planning to make a decision concerning whether he will stay in his position, accepting a six month contract extension, or will leave at the end of June.

Andy Johns checks in with the Jacksonville trees. Will Alabama Power appeal a judge's ruling that said they couldn't cut them down?

Friday, June 13, 2008

This weekend in The Star

Check out this weekend's Star for these stories:

On Saturday:
Megan Nichols takes a look at flag day and also explains proper flag display and handling.

Megan also has a story about the Anniston City Council's discretionary funds. What are they used for and what's the philosophy behind them?

Anniston used to have a curfew. Reviving some form of a curfew has come up as an idea at recent Stop the Violence meetings. Nick Cenegy takes a look at the history of curfews in Anniston.

On Sunday:

Todd South's final story for The Anniston Star is an analysis of declared candidates, issues and recent history in Oxford's upcoming municipal election.

We'll have coverage of Juneteenth as well as Music at McClellan's finale and a father-son lookalike contest at Quintard Mall.

Reporter Todd South rides into the sunset

Instead of a cake, a card and the usual going-away trappings, Anniston Star reporter Todd South had another idea. He asked the newsroom if we could help him fulfill his dream of getting together for a game of flag football before he left for his new job in Chattanooga. So we found ourselves sweating and tossing the old pigskin Thursday evening at the football field at McClellan.

We learned many things. 1. A 43-year-old (me) has no business wrestling around with these 20-something reporters. Ouch! I'm sore. 2. As is his natural ability, Todd has the knack for getting people together. 3. Todd thinks differently; who else wants a football game for a going-away party?

What we already knew: Todd is a top-notch person, a fine reporter with a bright future and a heck of an athlete. I will miss him. This newspaper will miss him. I wish him well and encourage him to keep in touch.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Check out Thursday's Star for these stories:

The tomato salmonella scare is affecting local restaurants and grocers, some of whom are not getting shipments of tomatoes from their suppliers. Others who rely on locally or regionally grown produce say their shelves still are full. Hannah Dame has this story.

Alex Scarborough-Anderson has a profile of the Opportunity Center program that refurbishes donated, used medical equipment.

Rep. Mike Rogers has inserted language into the defense authorization bill, still to be passed by the Senate, that would require military working dogs to be bred in the U.S. Are there potential contracts in this for Auburn's Canine Detection Training Center at McClellan?

The Disabled American Veterans Chapter of Piedmont is trying to raise money to fix/replace a defaced memorial to fallen soldiers at the veterans' park. Andy Johns has this story.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Coming Wednesday in The Anniston Star:

Nick Cenegy takes a look at the cost of the circuit court race between Ray Bryan and Mannon Bankson. One expert on political finance says Calhoun County bucked a trend of even more expensive, increasingly negative judicial races.

As students buckle down to catch up over the summer, some of them will also be plugging in and logging on at Jacksonville High. The school is using a new online summer school curriculum to share resources with other schools, making it cheaper to offer classes during the summer. Alex Scarborough-Anderson has this story.

The Anniston City Council meetes. We'll see if there's any news regarding the city manager contract. George Monk has said he hasn't decided whether he will accept a six-month extension.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

You can find these stories in The Anniston Star on Tuesday:

Controlled burns are underway at Talladega National Forest. That's why you've been seeing smoke. Andy Johns has this story.

Roanoke is expected to gain an interim mayor at tonight's council meeting. Andy will report from there as well.

Attorney General Troy King has asked the state supreme court to set an execution date for James Callahan, who was convicted of murdering JSU student Rebecca Howell.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Friday in The Star

You can find these stories in Friday's Star:

Veterans of the Depression-era Civilian Conservation Corps will gather at Cheaha Saturday for a reunion. Andy Johns examines the group's legacy, talks with a CCC veteran from Lineville, and highlights what local projects they worked on.

The Lineville-based group Servants in Faith and Technology are hosting students from around the world this week. Hannah Dame visited with them to find out what students are learning.

The Foothills Community Partnership, approaching the end of its cleanup of lead contamination in the area, is giving a big gift to the Community Foundation of Calhoun County. Megan Nichols has this story.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Check out Thursday's Anniston Star for these stories:

Todd South checks in with the chemical weapons incinerator in Anniston. That last VX-filled projectiles were recently destroyed - as the incinerator clears another milestone we'll take a look at any discussion on what will happen when all the weapons are gone.

The city's nuisance abatement program for homes has been around for awhile. Now it's being expanded to take in junk cars on private property that violate city code. Megan Nichols has this story.

Residents say long-term problems with Lake Louise caused by construction of the nearby Eastern Parkway had led the contractor to drain the lake in an effort to clear out sediment.

Friday, May 30, 2008

This weekend in The Star

On Saturday:

Some Anniston buildings have been named to the Alabama Historical Commission's "Places in Peril" list for 2008 . The "Gateway to Anniston" includes the old Anniston Land Co. building. Hannah Dame has this story.

Christina Smith takes a look at the race for the Cleburne County Revenue Commissioner. The primary is Tuesday.

Christina also checks in with plans for the Heflin industrial park.

On Sunday:

More than 7,000 inmates return to communities from Alabama state prisons each year, according to the Alabama Department of Corrections. Many of them suffer from drug and alcohol addictions. Once out of the corrections community, former inmates must find their own way through a myriad of options for treatment. Todd South has a story looking at what were once known as "halfway houses" - support and transitional centers.

Nick Cenegy will tell you about the candidates for family court judge: Incumbent Mannon Bankson and challenger Ray Bryan.

We'll also have coverage of the Fun Day at Constantine Park, Music at McClellan and Hobson City's end-of-the-school year party for young people.

On Monday:

Andy Johns will have a very informative story about the things people can do if they are attacked, as well as how to prevent attacks and burglary.

Andy also checks in with the pine beetles. Infestation numbers are expected to continue to decline from last year's epidemic levels.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Thursday in The Star

These stories are coming in Thursday's Anniston Star:

Megan Nichols follows up on the Anniston City Council's decision to offer City Manager George Monk a six month contract extension.

Dan Whisenhunt surveys local legislators about the pay for the special session. Most say they will accept the payment, but one says no.

Norwood Hodges and Carver community centers are undergoing renovations. What's in store for the community centers? Hannah Dame will let you know.

A new pediatric center in Anniston is finished. It was financed with funds from the Monsanto lawsuit and will serve children in the area affected by environmental pollution. Todd South has this story.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Check out Wednesday's Anniston Star for these stories:

High gas prices are hurting school systems - many are overbudget on fuel as the price of diesel to run school buses is climing just as fast as regular gas. And with the uncertainties over next year's budget, no one knows how much money there will be to buy fuel next year, let along how much it will cost.

Dan Whisenhunt checks in with our local delegation as the Legistlature's special session gets underway.

The Anniston City Council meets. Hearing public comments about plans to pull back coverage from police jurisdictions is on the agenda. Megan Nichols will cover this and will also see if there's more discussion of City Manager George Monk's contract.

Citizens for Better Schools holds a meeting in Anniston tonight. Nick Cenegy will be there and will let you know what was discussed.

Markeshia Ricks has a run-down of the Republican candidates for the Court of Criminal Appeals.

Oxford and Jacksonville city councils meet and the Anniston Board of Education meets as well.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Thursday in The Star

You can find these stories in Thursday's Anniston Star:

George Monk’s term as Anniston city manager will end in June, after the City Council was unable to commit to a one-year extension of his contract. Monk today told the council Wednesday he would leave the post when his contract ends June 30. Megan Nichols has this story.

Megan also has an update on the search for a JPA chief executive. One candidate has withdrawn his name from consideration for the position at McClellan’s Joint Powers Authority. James West Jr., of Augusta, Ga., e-mailed Anniston Mayor and JPA Vice-Chairman Chip Howell on Wednesday to inform him of his decision.

The Anniston Water Works & Sewer Board earlier this month settled a lawsuit it filed in the summer of 2006 against Oxford Water Works. Megan will also have this story.

Markeshia Ricks takes a look at the District 3 congressional race, Congressman Mike Rogers os the Republican incumbent. Who is challenging him and what's the political scene look like in the upcoming race?

Andy Johns has an advance on Memorial Day. Troopers will be out in force patrolling the roadways, but it's also likely that high gas prices will keep a lot of travelers home this weekend.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Check out Wednesday's Anniston Star for these stories:

Those involved with the Stop the Violence group have identified one concern they think could help keep kids on the right side of the law - addressing truancy. Nick Cenegy and Dan Whisenhunt take a look at this issue.

Megan Nichols will let you know how Monday's round of interviews for JPA CEO went.

There's no education budget as the school year draws to a close. What do local schools say that means for their systems? How about colleges and universities? Dan will have this story.

Memorial Day weekend is coming up and tourists on the Tallapoosa River have a new option of fun - tubing down the river. Christina Smith reports on this business.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Answers to my questions

Ask, and you shall receive.

On Friday, I wrote about a small, obscure civilian cemetery up at McClellan that I enjoy snooping around in. It's a beautiful place. It's adjacent to the larger military cemetery. In the course of my column, I identified a few graves by name and wondered if they were related, and asked the question, why were they buried here?

You can read my Friday column here.

An answer to my questions has arrived from a member of one of the families represented at the cemetery. Below is the response I received.
To answer your questions about the Reaves buried adjacent to the military cemetery at McClellan:

The older portion is New Hope Primitive Baptist Church cemetery. The church was removed shortly after 1912 when the federal government bought the land.

David Reaves, Emory Reaves and William McGuire Reaves were all brothers and were the sons of William Reaves and Narcissa Chandler Reaves. William and Narcissa had 7 sons who served in the Confederate army. The previous three mentioned are buried on McClellan; another, John Harrison Reaves, is buried at Four Mile cemetery; James W. Reaves relocated to Texas; Carter Hill Reaves, who donated land and lumber for the construction of "Reaves School" in NW Jacksonville and which was eventually replaced by Roy Webb School.

Carter Hill is buried in the Green Cemetery on Merrellton Road in J'Ville but the marker is missing and the last son, Rev. Ira Jackson Reaves, is buried in Macedonia Baptist Church, in Cleburne County.

The Reaves family came from Georgia and settled on farm land that is now known as McClellan. Each had separate acreage. William's farm was located only 1/2 mile from the New Hope Primitive Church and cemetery. There are two rows of Reaves in the cemetery, a Chandler family row, the Reidenger family row and the Bonds family row. The Reaves, Chandlers, Reidengers and Bonds are all related by marriage.

This is probably more than you wanted to know but there has been extensive Reaves family research done by W. Patrick Reaves of Munford. His published book is entitled THE RYVES-RIVES-REAVES FAMILIES OF EUROPE AND AMERICA.
Cool, huh? Now we know.

Friday, May 16, 2008

This weekend in The Star

Coming this weekend in The Anniston Star:

For Saturday:

Andy Johns has a story about beekeeping. What's going on in beekeeping today?

Andy also rounds up the rainfall totals from Thursday.

Dan Whisenhunt has a follow up to the lawsuit filed by Citizens for Better Schools, who are they, where are they based and why are they getting involved in Calhoun County issues?

Dan will also have a story about a celebration of arts by the county's gifted enrichment program.

On Sunday:

Capitol Correspondent Markeshia Ricks recently talked with former Governor Don Siegelman. What did he have to say?

Nick Cenegy takes a look at Calhoun County 911 - now in operation for 20 years, the office recently took its 1 millionith call.

Andy Johns will cover the fun day at Glen Addie and a remote control aircraft festival in Lineville.

George Smith will have an appreciation of country music legend Eddie Arnold, who recently passed away.

And on Monday:

Nick and Dan write about truancy. Those involved with the Stop the Violence group have identified one concern they think could help keep kids on the right side of the law: addressing truancy. But the law can be tricky for schools and cops to enforce. Part of our ongoing series on the roots of crime.

We'll also have a story about the Big Alabama Scenic Trail event at the stateline this weekend.

Green Insight

A quick preview of Sunday's Insight section -- we're going green in Calhoun County, thanks to the reporting of Cassandra Mickens, a Knight Community Journalism Fellow at The Star.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Friday in The Star

Coming Friday in The Star:

The region got a bunch of rain Thursday, but we're still in an extreme drought. Andy Johns will have this story.

Dan Whisenhunt reports on Wellborn Elementary's outdoor classroom which was dedicated Thusday.

A ceremony in Washington, D.C., honored fallen police officers, including Oxford Police Lt. Dexter Holcomb who was killed last year when he was struck by a school bus. Andy will have this story and advance a ceremony happening in Oxford Friday.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

This Thursday in The Star

Check out Thursday's Star for these stories:

Todd South has a story on the reaction at Jacksonville State University of the news that former LSU quarterback Ryan Perrilloux has signed a letter to transfer to JSU.

Residents and city leaders will meet to discuss the recent string of rapes and robberies that have police looking for a single perpetrator. Nick Cenegy will be at the meeting and will let you know what was discussed.

Knight Fellow Christina Smith has a follow-up on those cleaning up after the tornado in Heflin. She talked with the owners of a family-run daycare center that was demolished, leaving six families scrambling for childcare. Andy Johns will also have an update on what weather we can expect in the next few days - there might be more storms on the way.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Check out Thursday's Star for these stories:

Markeshia Ricks has a story about a public hearing at the state Department of Agriculture on opening up tourism relations with Cuba. What was discussed?

Rising gas prices and overtime costs are hurting the Calhoun County Sheriff's Department's budget, which has already busted projections. The possibility of having to pick up patrols in Saks, Wellborn and other areas outside the Anniston city limits, has the County Commission them starting to wonder where the money is going to come from. Megan Nichols looks at this issue.

Calhoun County is home to the country's champion Southern magnolia. Andy Johns will tell you all about the big tree.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

Check out Tuesday's Anniston Star for these stories:

Picking up litter in Calhoun County is a seven-day-a-week task, one that officials say could be made much easier with residents’ help. Megan Nichols has this story.

Dan Whisenhunt has a story about a possible JSU transit system. If planning stays on track, students at Jacksonville State University could be served by a campus bus system by fall 2009, JSU officials say.

Landlords could have a little more flexibility in dealing with tenants and appealing eviction judgments if a bill clears the House.The legislation clarifies some of the requirements for landlords in the state’s Uniform Residential Landlord-Tenant Act that was passed in 2006. Markeshia Ricks takes a look at what the law would do.

Friday, May 02, 2008

This weekend in The Star

Check out this weekend's Anniston Star for these stories:

We'll have full coverage of the Noble Street Festival, Sunny King Criterium and Cheah Challenge bike races.

On Saturday:

Megan Nichols has a story about the three candidates for the CEO position at the JPA.

The Jacksonville trees are heading back to court. Andy Johns has this story.

Andy will also check in with the weather experts to see what is in store for Saturday's weather.

On Sunday:

For the second year, the State Senate has been plagued by fighting that has effectively rendered it incapicitated. Markeshia Ricks looks at the possible ramifications of the slatemate.

Andy Johns checks in with George Howard Racing, who want to build a complex in Lincoln.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

Check out Tuesday's Anniston Star for these stories:

The Stop the Violence group holds another public meeting. They will hear back from committees looking into various aspects of the problem. Nick Cenegy will have a story on the meeting. What was discussed?

The Oxford City Council and planning board are meeting with the Cider Ridge developer to talk about changes to the property.

JSU President Bill Meehan begins his visit/interview with Valdosta State University. Dan Whisenhunt will report from Georgia on what is planned during the visit. Meehan is one of the finalists for the president's position at Valdosta.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Check out these stories in The Anniston Star:

The Anniston City Council brought up the idea of ceasing patrols in the police jurisdiction, the three-mile zone beyond the city limits. Nick Cenegy takes a look at this idea - how much work would this relieve the Anniston Police Department of and how would this affect the sheriff's office?

Anniston has "naming of a superintendent" as an action item on its agenda for tomorrow night. Dan Whisenhunt will have this story.

Gas prices are at an all-time high. How will this affect crowds at the race in Talladega, which normally draws legions of RV-driving long distance fans? Megan Nichols will look at this.

Matt Kasper looks at the impact of thistle. One Ohatchee resident is complaining about thistles growing along rights-of-way that is spreading into his pasture land. Is this a widespread problem of an invasive species threatening local farms. Is it an annoyance that the county road department needs to deal with?

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Coming Wednesday in The Anniston Star:

Some local school systems will increase prices in its school lunch program, joining many other systems statewide. Dan Whisenhunt looks at the increases and why they are going up.

Oxford Elementary school students celebrated Earth Day with the National Guard at Mclellan. Todd South has this story.

Matt Kasper looks at Jacksonville's drive to be branded an "Alabama Community of Excellence." Folks working on the effort have finished their strategic plan for the city and will unveil it Wednesday. What do they propose for Jacksonville's future?

Education appropriations were the order of the day in the state Legislature. Markeshia Ricks looks at what was discussed and what this could mean for our local schools.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

Check out these stories in The Anniston Star on Tuesday:

JSU held a teacher of the year/teacher hall of fame ceremony. Who was honored? Dan Whisenhunt will have this story.

The Anniston City Council held an open forum on violence issues Monday night. Megan Nichols will cover the meeting and let you know who was there and what was said.

Markeshia Ricks has a story about the gridlock in the state Senate. Any chance of any bills being passed before the end of the legislative session?

Matt Kasper will have an update on a planned assisted living center in Jacksonville.