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.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Writer looking for sources

Emily Amick, a journalism fellow at The Star, is looking to talk to people about issues related to pregnancy. She is looking to talk to you if you are, or have been: a teen mom struggling to find resources, a woman considering her options regarding an unwanted pregnancy or unable to access adequate prenatal care. If you are interested in talking to her about these or any related issue please contact her at

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Friday in The Anniston Star

Check out Friday's Star for these stories:

JSU President Bill Meehan is a semi-finalist for the top job at Valdosta State University. Dan Whisenhunt will have this story.

Andy Johns writes about Former Gov. John Patterson's talk at the library in Ashland.

Dan will also have a story about students from a Samford University sociology and the environment class who toured Anniston on Thursday to learn about how PCBs contamination has affected people's lives.

A Cleburne County sherriff's deputy who was shot in a traffic stop in 2002 was honored by the Legistlature today. Markeshia Ricks has this story.

Nick Cenegy will have a follow-up on Wednesday's shooting which left one woman dead.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Check out Thursday's Star for these stories:

Nick Cenegy has a profile of some of those involved in the group leading the stand against violent crime in Anniston.

Andy Johns visited the Wildland Fire Academy being held at McClellan. What was the scene there?

The U.S. Supreme Court has upheld the use of lethal injection for executions. This clears the way for executions to resume in Alabama. Markeshia Ricks will look at how the ruling will affect death row in the state.

Markeshia also takes a look at a bill that would place limits on ownership of non-lethal weapons such as tasers.

The Northeast Alabama Entrepreneurial Center celebrated its 10 year anniversary and announced the winners of the Calhoun County Chamber of Commerce's Small Business Awards Luncheon. Megan Nichols has this story.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Check out The Anniston Star for these stories on Wednesday:

Former governor John Patterson will speak at the Clay County Courthouse Thursday. Patterson, 86, who was governor from 1958 to 1963, will also sign copies of his biography “Nobody But the People” alongside the author, Warren Trest. Andy Johns will tell you about Patterson and advance his appearance in Ashland.

Rep. Randy Wood (R-Anniston) has filed a bill, which has cleared committee, that allows sheriffs and district attorneys to be present at executions. Current law excludes them. Markeshia Ricks has this story.

The JPA meets tonight. What did they discuss?

Matt Kasper will have an advance on the Mountain Longleaf Festival this weekend.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Tuesday in The Anniston Star

Check out Tuesday's Anniston Star for these stories:

Trustees at JSU voted to raise tuition and fees to deal with tight state budget. Meanwhile, students showed up to protest the proposed expansion of Paul Snow Stadium. Megan Nichols will have both these stories.

Megan also looks at the spring break activities being coordinated for local school children.

Nick Cenegy will attend the meeting Monday night of a commitee formed to address violent crime. What came out of the meeting?

Congressman Mike Rogers (R-Saks) was in town to speak at a breakfast for small business owners. What did he have to say?

Don't forget to file your taxes!

Friday, April 11, 2008

This weekend in The Anniston Star

Check out The Anniston Star for these stories this weekend:

On Saturday:

Todd South has a profile of a woman who has established a public library in Munford with her own volunteer labor and donated books.

Megan Nichols has an advance on cleanup day in Anniston, which will be held on April 19. There will be a meeting for volunteers on Monday.

On Sunday:

Dan Whisenhunt checks in with the Anniston Board of Education in advance of election season.

A judge is holding up implementation of rules that would prevent junior college employees and other state workers from serving in the Legistlature. Markeshia Ricks has this story.

On Monday:

Todd South profiles a local man who is workin gon his second book.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Friday in The Anniston Star

Check out Friday's Anniston Star for these stories:

A "Stop the Violence" roundtable is being held Thursday night in Anniston. The Sheriff's Office, Police Department, the mayor, and others are expected to participate. Nick Cenegy will let you know who attended and what was discussed.

Pleasant Valley High School's scholar's bowl team is headed to the state championship in Birmingham this weekend. Matt Kasper has this story.

Friday's expected storms look less threatening than models predicted Wednesday, according to the National Weather Service in Birmingham. But we're still supposed to get some weather. Todd South will tell you what's forecasted.

A joint resolution passed the state Senate which will create a committee to draft a statewide water management plan. It's on its way to the governor's desk. Sen. Kim Benefied, D-Woodland, was one sponsor.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Check out Thursday's Anniston Star for these stories:

Anniston taxi companies are asking the city for permission to raise rates in the face of rising gas prices. Megan Nichols has this story.

A swath of eastern Alabama has high rates of death and hospitalization from strokes. Why? Andy Johns writes about this issue.

Get ready for another round of severe weather on Friday. What can we expect in the Anniston area? Todd South updates you on what we might see later in the week.

A bill providing tax incentives to lure filmakers to Alabama appears to be on hold. Markeshia Ricks reports on the status of the bill.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Check out these stories in Wednesday's Anniston Star:

Makeshia Ricks has a story about bills making their way through the state House and Senate which would provide incentives to bring the movie industry to Alabama. But, the Alabama Education Association wants to attached an adult entertainment tax to one of the bills, and it could threaten the success of the incentives legislation.

Todd South will cover the Oxford City Council's meeting. They are expected to vote on a resolution designating downtown as a historic district.

Alexandria and Saks students built a moonbuggy for a NASA competition. Andy Johns will tell you all about their creations. Alexandria won an award for most innovative buggy.

If you went looking for the story about jail food and how Alabama sheriffs can keep any unspent money in Tuesday's newspaper you wouldn't have found it. That's because editors decided to hold the story for Wednesday's paper. It happens sometimes if a story isn't time sensitive that it gets held over a day or so, mostly because of space constraints. Megan Nichols story on this issue runs Wednesday. The state provides $1.75 per day, per prisoner for food. If they can feed inmates in their jails for less than that, Alabama sheriffs are allowed by law to keep any overages for their personal use. However, because Calhoun County is one of a few Alabama counties in which the County Commission controls prisoner food, the law does not apply here.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Tuesday in The Anniston Star

Check out Tuesday's Star for these stories:

A recent opinion by state Attorney General Troy King affirmed an archaic Alabama law that says sheriffs can pocket money left over from feeding prisoners, but the practice does not happen in Calhoun County, officials said. The state provides $1.75 per day, per prisoner for food. If they can feed inmates in their jails for less than that, Alabama sheriffs are allowed by law to keep any overages for their personal use. However, because Calhoun County is one of a few Alabama counties in which the County Commission controls prisoner food, the law does not apply here. Megan Nichols has this story.

Andy Johns has an update on the rain we've had, plus forecasts. We've had about 16 inches of rain this year. Last year we didn't get that until November.

Matt Kasper writes about the services which were held for the Rev. Dr. A.A. Scales of Anniston who was the state president of the SCLC and pastor of a Gadsden church.

BAE Systems has got a new contract for building vehicles. Todd South will tell you how much the contract is and what it will be used for.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Favorites, old and new

This Sunday's Bookshelf sees the third in our new series of "classics." Features editor Laura Tutor reviews Anna Karenina (which she read before in Russian and only now read in English).
Steve Whitton reviews the new book by Endless Love author Scott Spencer. Although Spencer addresses the themes of isolation and obsession well enough in Willing, the book just gets to be "too much," Whitton writes.
Lindsay Maples reviews the sequel to the laugh-out-loud The Spellman Files, which she heartily enjoyed, and finds that she is just as satisfied with the Curse of the Spellmans. Lisa Lutz's characters and writing are quirky, sometimes caustic, and reliably hilarious.
Readers should be interested to read about the upcoming Alabama Book Festival in Montgomery, sponsored by the Alabama Center for the Book at Auburn University. The free event will be April 19 in Old Alabama Town from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and will feature something for everyone, even children. For more information, visit the website at or call 334-844-4946.

Friday, April 04, 2008

This weekend in The Anniston Star

Check out The Anniston Star for these stories:

On Saturday:

Andy Johns will tell you what the weather brought our way. As of 4:46 p.m. Friday we've still got threatening skies and are under a tornado watch until 9 p.m.

A Spanish-Italian-Cuban restaurant just opened in Randolph County. Andy Johns will have a profile of the new establishment. What do they offer?

We'll also have an update on the explosion of a mobile home in northern Calhoun County.

On Sunday:

Nick Cenegy takes a look at the state's new early-release program for some inmates. It's intended to relieve overcrowding problems.

Markeshia Ricks talks to local mental health and DHR workers about the cuts that could affect them with coming changes in Medicaid funding.

Todd South as an update on Kronospan, including an update on the new local manufacturer's hiring.

Todd also has a story about entrepreneurs in Munford who have turned a former one-room schoolhouse into a wedding chapel.

A reader's complaint ... and our answer

I received a sharply worded criticism from a reader this morning. In short, this reader, whose name I’m withholding, is unhappy with our format changes and strongly suggests that our editorial board’s views are improperly influencing our news coverage.

I’ll address the first concern below, after publishing the complaint.
As to the second charge of bias, I reject the allegation, which is a shop-worn complaint employed against far more media outlets than The Anniston Star.
(This post from the Center for American Progress is a handy primer.)

To cite but one small example from today’s paper: The editorial page strongly opposed the U.S. invasion in Iraq and has steadfastly chronicled the many disasters that have proceeded from that ongoing war. Yet, this morning’s Page 2A headline boldly states, “Report says Iraq security has improved since August assessment.” Would a biased media outlet proclaim what appears to be good news out of a troubled place? Doesn’t seem likely.

As I said, that’s a small example. I’m confident we could do much the same every day we publish.

Or maybe that noted political scientist Stephen Colbert was right when he said, “Reality has a well-known liberal bias.”
Granted, this isn’t the last word on the subject – either from the newspaper or its detractors.

Now, on to the unhappy e-mail:

Mr. Davis -
the recent changes to the lay out of the front page is totally unacceptable to either myself or my wife. Most days more then half the stories either end on the front page or only preview the story inside. This morning, of the 6 stories on the front, every one of them is finished on the front page, or promotes a story on the inside. I expect better from the paper I read every morning.
You recently greatly reduced the number of pages in the paper. Now you are wasting an entire front page. Often the promoted stories are everything you need to know about the issue, so when you turn to the actually, somewhat longer story, it’s a waste of time. Nothing new is learned, yet more spaced is wasted.
Finally, it makes the paper look like either USAToday - which I read on the road because THEY GIVE IT AWAY - or a supermarket tabloid. That is not what I want to read in the morning. I can not understand what you all were thinking.
While I am use[d] to the pitiful way that the editorial views color this paper's coverage of nearly everything, and indeed I can live with your total inability to be even handed in your coverage of any national event, I can not continue to read a paper whose front section on Mondays & Tuesdays is 4 pages, one of them wasted telling me what I can find inside, and the final page wasted by a generally mean spirited attempt at humor. What was the point of printing and delivering that?
This is journalism 101 as I recall - if it is important enough to be on the front page, its important enough to discuss in some detail. If underage drinking is the problem folks say, then it deserves more then the pitiful 20% of the front page it got. Students "claim" the[y] drink - do they? Other studies show the actually don't, but think everyone is so they do. Is under-age drinking a problem, or is our inability to teach responsible drinking the problem? What about the movement to lower the drinking age in several states?
- NH, Vt, SC, SD, all immediately jump to mind. How can an 19 year old just back from Iraqi be told he's too young to drink?
You all have about a month to change the situation before I cancel. We already get the Birmingham News 4 days a week. Your recent changes are about to be the final nail in the coffin. I would like to see you correct the problem before its too late.

[Name and city of residence withheld]

I believe a good starting point is to note that this newspaper is not perfect. We – meaning the writers and editors -- can and do make mistakes, simple spelling mistakes, mistakes of fact and mistakes of news judgment (i.e. not putting enough emphasis on stories that deserve more attention).

We do not shrug this fact off with an “oh well, mistakes happen” attitude. We work every day to get better, to correct errors and to contemplate what we do and why.
Second, I welcome letters like this. They keep us on our toes, forcing self-evaluation. We have a loyal reader here; he wants the best for “his” newspaper. I’m glad to get the e-mail, even if it delivers unhappy news.

Now to the central complaint about the paper’s format.

We started with a simple premise. In a time-squeezed world, readers have consistently made a request, Don’t waste my time. Tell me the essentials that I need to live and work in this community. This includes jumping fewer stories from the front page to one on the inside and offering more community news, the news most unique to our cover-age area. This is based on research from reputable sources; two are here and here.

Our design changes are an attempt to address those concerns by emphasizing more local news, in ways that offer readers a condensed version on Page 1 and more details on inside pages. It's also worth noting - re local news - that this newspaper is the only source for much of the reporting within our coverage area. (Along with this local news report, we cannot and will not ignore that wider world around us. ) Our format serves two camps -– those who want a “just the facts, ma’am” report and those who prefer a deeper drilling down of the story.

The results in terms of newspaper circulation, while not glowing, are that the trends are improving from last year. Like I said, our reports are not great, but they are better than the national trend for newspaper circulation. While not a perfect model to study, we take it as encouragement; readers appear to support our changes to (a.) go more local and (b.) become more user-friendly. By anecdote, we have heard from readers who would disagree with my e-mailer; they have said they prefer the paper’s new look.

I hope our loyal-yet-unhappy reader will stick with us. We can’t promise he’ll be 100percent pleased. I can promise that we will – as we do daily – work diligently to improve this community newspaper.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Check out Thursday's Anniston Star for these stories:

Three are dead after separate shootings Tuesday - two died after shooting Tuesday night in Anniston, one was killed and one sent to hospital, treated and released after another early morning shooting in Hobson City. Nick Cenegy has this story.

Are farmers planting differently because of the drought? Andy Johns asks local farmers how the recent weather has affected their planting plans.

Lawmakers say a series of bills passed out of the House Public Safety Committee Wednesday could bring teenage driving deaths down significantly in the state if the Legislature will pass them this session. Markeshia Ricks looks at the bills and what the impact might be.

About a year ago lifelong friends Maurice Whatley, Mark Jackson and Xavier Brooks decided a team was the way to go and formed Cap Hill Inc., an independent hip-hop label. Todd South has this story.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Coming Wednesday in The Anniston Star:

Results from the UAB study of the effects of PCB exposure on middle-school students will be presented at a community meeting on Tuesday. Megan Nichols will report on what is in the study.

Campuses everywhere are looking closer at security after violence at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois as well as murders at Auburn and UNC. Dan Whisenhunt looks at what Jacksonville State University doing to improve campus stafety.

Markeshia Ricks talks with local mental health and DHR folks about the cuts that could affect them with coming changes in Medicaid funding.

Nick Cenegy writes about potential changes in the Calhoun County coroner's office that would be wrought by proposed legislation.