Friday, February 29, 2008

That close to finding McClellan history

I'll try to keep this brief.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a column about the need for a Fort McClellan museum. It's something I believe passionately about, though I have little confidence that the biggest two issues -- finding a willing investor and acquiring the needed memorabilia -- could be overcome.

But that's not what I am writing about.

In my column, I mentioned that Miki Schneider of the Joint Powers Authority has a dog tag on her desk. The tag was pulled from a Fort McClellan landfill. For her, the tag has a strong sentimental value because it shows the need to preserve the former fort's history.

The name on the tag, which I wrote about, is George Jones, a Baptist with O-positive blood. We know nothing about the soldier.

A few days after my column was published, I received an e-mail from someone who said they had a family member -- named George Jones, of course -- who was stationed at Fort McClellan decades ago. That George Jones is now dead, unfortunately, but his family was trying to locate his Social Security number to see if the dog tag was his.

Thus, for a few days I had to wait to see if we'd found a real needle in the haystack.

We didn't. When his family found his SS number, it did not match the one on the dog tag on Schneider's desk.

We were that close. But I guess we'll keep trying.

Coming Sunday in Insight

Gov. Riley's pre-K program has received a ton of ink since he began stumping across the state for it in recent months. On Sunday, we're giving it another ton of ink. But it's worth it.

This weekend in The Star

Check out this weekend's Star for these stories:

On Saturday:

Wadley's disputed interim police chief was arrested Thursday by the Alabama Bureau of Investigation. Marc Green, a Wadley police officer whom the town’s mayor called the interim police chief until Monday, has been charged with first-degree theft and third-degree burglary in connection with a December break-in at Stephen’s Station on Alabama 22, according to Randolph County District Attorney Paul Jones. Green was appointed interim police chief in December, but the town council replaced him on Feb. 19. Andy Johns has this story.

The Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind is celebrating 150 years Friday. The Blind Boys of Alabama will be on hand, their first visit to Talladega in 60 years.

Cleburne County Industrial Authority folks are visiting a Montgomery race track this weekend. They will get to see for themselves what they could expect if George Howard Racing built a racing complex in Heflin.

On Sunday:

The start of a four-part series by John Fleming, Star editor at large, taking a look at local ownership of broadcast media, the FCC's attempts to encourage it, the market's habit of preventing it, and the vanishing practice of local broadcast news.

The Anniston Board of Education has established a committee to look at ways to save money. Any ideas? And where do school systems normally look to trim their budgets?

There's a burned-out home in Oxford that has at least one resident, a shaggy black dog. It won't leave the house, but no one knows who the owners are. One woman has taken pity on the dog and is leaving food, and shelter, for it.

How do you judge a dairy cow? Andy Johns will explain.

And on Monday:

The Alabama Math and Science Initiave is expanding to more local schools. How does it work?

Part II of John Fleming's look at the FCC and local broadcasting.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Friday in The Star

Outsourcing services to save money is not unheard of at Jacksonville State University or other college campuses, but it’s something people on campus could hear more about soon. JSU has contracts for both its food service and its bookstores; both save the university money, university officials say. At January’s board of trustees meeting, whether the university should consider outsourcing its janitorial and maintenance services was discussed.

It's Leap Day. Andy Johns will tell you all about why we have Leap Years and will talk to folks about what it's like to be a "leaper" or someone born on Feb. 29.

A local representative has a bill in committee that would give qualifying Alabama veterans free college tuition. State Rep. Randy Wood, R-Anniston, has sponsored a bill to give qualifying Alabama residents who have served on active duty free tuition at any state college, university, technical college, community college or junior college.

Is quilting making a comeback? Todd South talks with some local quilters and a local store that offers quilting lessons about the craft's increasing popularity.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Coming Thursday in The Anniston Star:

The state of Alabama gave out millions in grant money to public schools and libraries this year, but two local legislators say political interests muddied the process. Additionally, a communication error might have caused some local school systems to apply for less money than they could have received. Some school systems in other counties got much more money than Calhoun County’s local K-12 schools when the state Education Department announced the millions in grants this month. Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

An Oxford school board member from Hobson City is calling for increased attention to the number of minority faculty. This comes soon after a federal judge chided Calhoun County Schools for backsliding on its percentage of minority teachers. How many minority teachers should local school systems have and why aren't they there? Dan examines this issue.

Megan Nichols spent a day with Calhoun County Animal Control. What is a day in their life like?

We'll check in to see how clean-up after Tuesday's storm went, including electricity service.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Check out Wednesday's Anniston Star for these stories:

We'll have full coverage of the early morning storms that swept through the area Tuesday - what damage we saw here, the status of power outages, and how the cleanup went, including a look at how the storms affected local schools (a portion of Saks High School's roof was blown off).

The final results, including toxicology tests, are in in the case of Ben Stanford. What do the reports say?

Megan Nichols writes about a new round of PCB lawsuits expected to be in court this fall.

Dan Whisenhunt looks at the Next Start scholarship fund. The Legislature is taking up legislation to re-start the scholarship program.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

Check out Tuesday's Star for these stories:

The county extension service hosted a healthy soul food tasting. Yum. Bill Edwards was there and can tell you all about it.

Crews have cleared land just south of Greenleaf Street in Jacksonville for a site that will soon be home to the city's first chain hotel. Matt Kasper has this story.

City Councilman Ben Little has proposed declaring a house that was the site of the city's most recent homicide and other crimes to be a public nuisance. Megan Nichols writes about this proposal.

Markeshia Ricks takes a look at the fate of bills that have cleared the Alabama House. They could die an early death because the Senate hasn't passed any bills yet.

Hobson City, Lincoln, Piedmont and Jacksonville councils meet.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A few reads for Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month, Bookshelf features a few books for kids and adults. One article is a series of recommendations about great books for kids to read on this topic. The other piece is a review of a novel just published in honor of the centennial of Richard Wright's birthday. The late writer left behind an unfinished novel, a crime novel called A Father's Law, and his daughter has now published it. It does leave a bit to be desired, since it was a raw work, but it is a valuable piece of information for those who would like to know more about, and hear more from, Wright.
Steve Whitton reviews All Shall Be Well; and All Shall Be Well; and All Manner of Things Shall Be Well, by Tod Wodicka. The title itself takes up half the space I can mention about it, but Whitton says it's a great debut novel "about family and the harsh terrain all families traverse."
Last, I review a memoir by a twenty-something woman whose lifelong dream has been to ... yes, it's true -- be a princess. Never mind that she grew up the daughter of hippie parents in small-town Colorado. She taught herself how to be a proper English lady and clawed her way to Great Britain as fast as she could. It's almost anachronistic and anti-feminist, but it's pretty darn entertaining in spots.

Friday, February 22, 2008

We're still fighting the Civil War

Yep, we've got more letters to the editor about the Civil War, black Union soldiers, and whether slavery had anything to do with the War for Southern Independence.


A few weeks ago, The Star's editorial board had the audacity -- sorry, Barack -- to write an editorial about a new monument at the Lawrence County Courthouse that honors black Union soldiers from that county.

People didn't like what we wrote.

And people didn't like what other people wrote about what we wrote about.

Got it?

Basically, people are in a lather over this. So we're publishing another set of letters on this mess on Sunday.

Read up.

Coming Sunday in Insight

It's a full-out examination of the immigration debate in Alabama. Regardless of which side of this issue you reside on, Sunday's Insight section will be worth your time.

Oh, and we've also got a pretty entertaining -- and scary -- read about Americans and their intelligence: Is it is good as it once was?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Friday in The Star

Check out these stories in The Star Friday:

What's it like for the fans of the Regional High School Basketball Tournament? What are their traditions and what's the scene like? Dan Whisenhunt has this story. Also, there will be lots of coverage of the basketball tournament in the newspaper and online.

The Mount Cheaha 50K is this coming Saturday. This local ultra-race event hosted by the Anniston Runners Club starts at Porter's Gap in Talladega and participants run in extreme conditions on trails to the highest point in Alabama - Cheaha State Park. Joe Medley will tell you all you need to know about the race.

Markeshia Ricks will let you know what happened at today's public hearing on licensing midwives for practice outside hospitals.

A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a suspect in Sunday's homicide in Anniston.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Check out Thursday's Anniston Star for these stories:

Three bills in the Alabama Legistlature could affect local wineries if passed. Megan Nichols looks at these bills and what they might mean for local folks.

The Calhoun County Sheriff's office has new GPS tracking devices. What do they use them for and what can they do? Nick Cenegy writes about this.

The White Plains Wildcats take to the basketball court tonight without senior Bradey Monroe, who died this morning in a cancer clinic in Houston.

We'll also have full coverage of the ongoing Regional Basketball Tournament.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Coming Wednesday in The Star

Check out Wednesday's Anniston Star for these stories:

Markeshia Ricks will introduce readers to Alabama's super delegates. Who are they and have they picked a presidential candidate to support yet?

For the second time in 14 months, Jacksonville State University is refusing to release athletic department records requested by The Anniston Star. Since April 2007, The Star has repeatedly sought — under the Alabama Open Records Act — the results of the school’s athletic department drug-testing program. Star Sports Writer Al Muskewitz will have a story on this.

In print and online, we will have all sorts of coverage of the High School Regional Basketball Tournament - scores, video, photos, podcasts and articles.

George Smith will profile Bedford Carter, the man in charge of renovating the chapel at McClellan for Grace Fellowship.

The West Anniston Community Development Corporation showcased its first renovated home on Walnut Avenue. Megan Nichols has this story.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Coming Tuesday in The Star

Check out Tuesday's Anniston Star for these stories:

What affect did the storms on Sunday have around here? The storms dumped more than an inch of rain in Calhoun County and blew part of the roof off Red’s Catfish on Catfish Road in Mellow Valley in Clay County. Emergency officials in Randolph County reported widespread damage to outbuildings, sheds and some roofs. A weather service crew was scheduled to visit Randolph and Clay counties today to determine whether a tornado or straight-line winds caused the damage there. Andy Johns has this story.

Anniston police are searching for a man in his 40s identified as a suspect in an early Sunday morning homicide on the 300 block of K Street. A resident heard shots, walked outside to investigate, and found Jerry Lewis Turner, 54, of Anniston, on the ground, according to police reports. Calhoun County Coroner Pat Brown said Turner was pronounced dead at the scene around 5 a.m., but he stopped short of identifying the cause of death.

Matt Kasper writes about the Piedmont Drive-In. The owner of theater, Cecil Quarles, says he is looking to sell.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Books on Founders and Fido

In connection with Presidents Day, the Bookshelf page is featuring a review of a book about the Founding Fathers, called American Creation. Among its interesting information is the author's revelation that the fathers of our great land didn't necessarily intend to start a revolution, at least not at the very beginning. At the First and Second Continental Congress, they were hoping to attain more local control from England, but not sever ties completely. But we all know how that ended up working out.
In other topics, local veterinarian Barry Nicholls reviews Merle's Door, about a dog's wonderful freedom in the mountains of Colorado. The owner's/author's dog door allows Merle to come and go and run free in the fresh air and to just all around be a dog. Dr. Nicholls has some opinions about how that can work out, though.
I review a book called The Heroines, an incredibly clever idea for a book. A woman runs a bed and breakfast that regularly has guests who are heroines of classic novels. There are some really fun, original spots in the book. However, it veers a bit too far from its great premise and loses a bit in translation. Still a good read, but not as great as I think it could have been.
Read more in tomorrow's Bookshelf.

Letters worth reading

It's been an interesting few days in the letters to the editor department of The Star.

On Thursday, we published a collection of fiery letters concerning the installation of a monument in Lawrence County that honors black Union soldiers in the Civil War. Needless to say, Star readers who still think Gen. Lee's gonna save the South took issue with a few things and filled our inbox with responses.

On Sunday, we have a collection of letters debating the necessity of the death penalty in Alabama. The letters are quite good -- emotional and heartfelt. They're worth a read.

Make sure you check them out Sunday, in print or online. Go to our opinions page once they're published on Sunday morning. A hint: One letter is from a local woman whose sister and brother-in-law were murdered in 1986. It's a must-read this weekend.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Friday in The Star

Check out Friday's Star for the following stories:

State Sen. Hank Erwin has introduced a pair of bills in the Legislature that would allow some students and professors at state colleges to carry firearms on campus. What do campus police and administrators think of this idea? Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

Todd South has a wrap up of the Anniston Army Depot sustainability conference. What can the depot do to sustain jobs, output, growth and the evironment?

Todd also writes about the veterans affairs travel allowance, which was recently raised for the first time in 30 years.

A bill to subject the JPA to the state's Open Meetings Act cleared the House. Now it's on to the Senate. Markeshia Ricks covers this story.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Coming Thursday in The Star

Check out Thursday's Anniston Star for these stories:

Valentine's Day: What do singles or people who just hate the holiday do on this one day of the year when pink hearts and flowers can't be avoided? Megan Nichols talks with some of these folks to find out their feelings about Valentine's Day.

The city of Anniston released the full PCB report. Megan Nichols explains what's in the report.

An investigation has exonerated Anniston City Manager George Monk of all accusations leveled against him by the Rev. Dr. Freddy Rimpsey. Megan also has this story.

A child nutrition program is the closest thing schools have to a business; the program makes part of its money from its customers, the students. For Anniston City Schools, it’s a business that’s losing money, according to Child Nutrition Coordinator Debbie Prince. Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

Coming Tuesday in The Star:

Is the flu here and how bad is it? What are the symptoms and how can you prevent spreading it? Andy Johns tackles the flu.

Talladega College's president announced the cut of 17 jobs from the college’s work force in an effort to straighten out its finances. Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

Reformers pushing for a constitutional convention picked up a new ally in east Alabama this legislative session.Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, is serving as a co-sponsor on a bill that would allow Alabama voters to decide whether they want to call a convention to rewrite the 1901 constitution. Markeshia Ricks also talks with other local legislators to see what they think about consitutional reform.

Weaver has lifted water restrictions. What about other municipalities and the county? Matt Kasper has this story.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Coming Friday in The Star

Here's what we've got planned for Friday's Anniston Star:

Dan Whisenhunt talked with students and administrators at JSU about student fees. Fees have been suggested as a way to raise more money for the football program. A consultant also suggested the university consider fees for non-athletic programs. What do people think about those ideas?

Megan Nichols has a story about what Monsanto-area residents think about the Solutia landfill.

The state Legistlature is looking at setting up a toll road and bridge authority. Markeshia Ricks talks with legislators about that proposal.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Check out Thursday's Star for these stories:

John Fleming examines the impact of Alabama's evangelical voters in the presidential race. How will they vote in November?

Markeshia Ricks will have full coverage of Gov. Bob Riley's state of the state address.

Ohatchee cattle farmers are going up against a pack of five to 10 dogs which have killed at least four cows and two goats. Nick Cenegy has this story.

Dan Whisenhunt profiles Saks High School band director Gene Inglis who has been honored with a national award.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Down here at the zoo

What an election night treat, courtesy of Deirdre Long.
These animals cookies look like political party symbols, the elephant for Republicans and the donkey for the Democrats.
Then again, it's getting late and punchiness may have set in.

It's a fact

The Star's presidential marker board is five times larger than Tim Russert's.
See for yourself.

Wednesday in The Star

Check out Wednesday's Star for these stories:

We'll have full presidential primary coverage, including local results for the Democrats and Republicans, a story about the turnout - who voted, how many and what was it like at the polling places - as well as a story about how the state of the economy factored into votes. They'll be video stories on our Web site, too, and a full round up of the results in the state and nation.

Markeshia Ricks will write about the first day of the legislative session and look ahead to the state of the state address.

Megan Nichols covers the JPA board meeting where the they discussed road issues.

And George Smith profiles Woodland Mayor Tim Prince.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Coming Tuesday in The Star

Check out Tuesday's Star for these stories:

Due to bad market conditions, Solutia is having trouble getting promised financing from three banks. Megan Nichols has this story.

Dan Whisenhunt writes about a substance-abuse prevention group's kick off of a new program at Anniston Middle School.

Calhoun County Republicans are having their monthly meeting Monday. Todd South will be there to take the pulse of local GOP members before the Tuesday presidential primary. Who are they leaning toward and is there a consensus?

Markeshia Ricks has an advance on the opening of the legislative session Tuesday.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

What's your favorite book?

The Star's Bookshelf page, which is printed each Sunday, is trying something different in 2008.

Once a month, Bookshelf editor Cathy Carmode Lim will ask one of our regular contributors or staffers to re-read their favorite book. Anything's possible -- classic books, campy books, anything as long as they claim it as their favorite. The only catch is they must re-read it to see if they view it the same now as they did then.

The first installment of the feature appears in Sunday's Star. It comes from regular contributor Steven Whitton, a professor of English at Jacksonville State University, who has re-read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

On Sunday, see what you think.

Friday, February 01, 2008

No, it's not all about Hillary Clinton

An early look at Sunday's cover of the Insight section, which is devoted to the issue of women in politics -- women voters, women lawmakers, and women candidates.

Check it out Sunday.