Monday, March 31, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

Check out Tuesday's Star for these stories:

Hobson City residents and volunteers hosted a town meeting to present their strategic plan for the municipality. What do people think about the plan and what are its suggestions? Todd South has this story.

Markeshia Ricks takes a look at some of the potential economic impacts of proposed immigration legislation in the state. The bills are expected to come up for discussion on Tuesday.

Matt Kasper has a story about a speaker who visited JSU to talk about banking mergers and acquisitions. The visit of Dr. John S. Jahera was part of the "Eminent Scholar Research Series."

Friday, March 28, 2008

Coming Sunday in Insight

Everything you ever wanted to know about Ronald Reagan, the GOP's true conservative, and presidential nominee John McCain, who some in the party feel isn't conservative enough.

This weekend in The Star

Coming this weekend in The Star:

On Saturday:

The Joint Powers Authority at McClellan is working with the Calhoun County state legislative delegation to pass a bill that would recognize the JPA and affect its land sales. Megan Nichols has this story.

In the coming months, Heflin residents sill have the opportunity to shoot, skate and sling as the parks department plans to add an archery park, and skate park and a Frisbee golf course. Andy Johns will tell you all about the park.

Anniston firefighters visited with Children’s Rehabilitation Services in Anniston.

On Sunday:

Todd South profiles the workers who suit up to enter the chemicals weapons incinerator. There's a ton of regulations and a web of support staff monitoring a handful of workers who seal up in plastic suits to work on equipment that dissassembles and destroyts deadly chemical weapons.

Matt Kasper has a profile of a Piedmont-based gospel radio station. Its got a one-person staff.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Check out Thursday's Star for these stories:

Todd South writes about the Oxford Exchange. Five year of fourth quarter sales tax revenue - three years before the Exchange and now almost two years with it, what impact has the shopping center made in the busiest of sales tax quarters?

Markeshia Ricks has two stories out of the state Legislature. One looks at the potential costs to implement some of the efforts aimed at illegal immigration. The other concerns a bill that would have allowed firearms on college campuses. College officials spoke against the proposals at a hearing Wednesday. The legislative committee decided to let the bills die.

Anniston Mayor Chip Howell has a collection of old postcards of the city. Megan Nichols takes a look.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Check out Wednesday's Anniston Star for these stories:

The Anniston Board of Education held a work session to discuss potential budget cuts. Dan Whisenhunt will tell you what's on the table for the city schools as they deal with budget shortfall.

A California-based company may be moving its corporate headquarters to Anniston, if the Joint Powers Authority at McClellan agrees to sell it a building. The JPA marketing committee discussed a proposal from DirecTex to purchase a warehouse at its Tuesday morning meeting. Megan Nichols has this story.

Nick Cenegy writes about the Zerometh campaign. Some critics say it does a good job of scaring potential users but there's not a lot to steer addicts to assistance.

Markeshia Ricks looks at the package of bills focused on illegal immigration coming up this week in the state Legislature.
Todd South attended a talk in Oxford, sponsored by the Eagle Forum, on immigration. What was discussed?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

Anniston’s Fourth Street Train Station is ready to be occupied after renovations, city officials said. The only remaining question is who will occupy it.

An assistant principal at Lineville Elementary and High Schools died in a hunting accident over the weekend, the Clay County coroner said Monday. Gerald “Gerry” Elliot, 39, was out turkey hunting early Saturday when he tried to climb a barbed-wire fence and slipped, Coroner Dale Rush said.

Two local teachers are on a short list of finalists for Alabama’s Teacher of the Year award, the Alabama Department of Education reported Monday.Amber Trantham, a third-grade teacher at Alexandria Elementary School and Deedee Adams, a math teacher at Oxford High School, made the department’s “sweet 16” list of educators from around the state.

Friday, March 21, 2008

This weekend in The Star

Check out The Star this weekend for these stories:

On Saturday:

Easter is earlier this year than it has been in about 100 years and it won't be this early again for centuries. How has that affected local plans to mark the holiday? Megan Nichols has this story.

Dan Whisenhunt takes a look at the history of the Cherokee Phoenix, a newspaper published in the tribal capital in northern Georgia. There's an exhibit about the newspaper at the Berman Musuem in Anniston right now.

Dan also has this story: There's been no movement in Anniston superintendent search - In the seven months after the Anniston Board of Education fired Superintendent Sammy Lee Felton, the board has not begun looking for his permanent replacement.

On Sunday:

Laura Tutor takes a look at the governor's pre-K program proposal.

Markeshia Ricks writes about how a series of changes to Medicaid stands to cost Alabama lots of money as the federal government expects the states to begin picking up the tab for a number of health services from hospitals to rehab centers to schools.

Todd South profiles the Always a Soldier Program which gives former service members who’ve sustained service-related disabilities and earned the Purple Heart for combat-connected injuries employment opportunities at civilian jobs that support the military.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Friday in The Star

Check out Friday's Star for these stories:

The Anniston branch of BAE Systems will get $47.2 million to build 65,000 metal armor plates for combat vehicles commonly deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. Todd South looks at what this means for the region.

Climate prediction experts say drought conditions will improve this spring for most of the Southeast, bringing some measure of relief to anyone who grows things for a living. Andy Johns has this story.

Like school systems across the country, White Plains and the rest of Calhoun County Schools face twin pressures of limited financial resources and increased pressure to show kids can perform on math and reading tests. That often squeezes out such subjects as the arts and foreign languages. But an idea borrowed from higher education could help expand local elementary schools’ offerings. Dan Whisenhunt writes about this.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Alabama’s children’s health insurance program is caught between a rock and a hard place.The federal government failed to reauthorize and provide additional funding for the program that provides health insurance to low-income children who don’t qualify for Medicaid, and can’t afford private insurance.On top of that, the state has fallen on hard financial times, with shortfall of more than $200 million expected for the general fund. The general fund essentially covers all the state’s non-education expenses. Markeshia Ricks has this story.

Matt Kasper has a story about the memorial services for Army Capt. Torre Mallard, held Wednesday in Anniston. He was killed last week while serving in Iraq.

With the decision to withdraw their interest in building a race complex in Heflin, George Howard Racing is exploring a site in Lincoln instead. Andy Johns writes about this.

Workers at the Anniston Army Depot are links in a chain that will keep a 50-year old artillery piece firing for another 50 years. Depot workers have overhauled the Paladin Self-Propelled Howitzer since the mid-1990s. A new upgrade to the system, announced Friday will give the depot some more work to do. BAE Systems will produce six prototypes of the 155mm artillery piece for testing at Fort Sill, Okla. in 2009, said Garrie Dornan, spokesman for BAE Ground Systems.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Check out The Anniston Star for these stories Wednesday:

The Jacksonville trees get to stay. Calhoun County Circuit Judge John Thomason signed an order that will keep Alabama Power Co. from taking down trees that have been a source of controversy in Jacksonville. Matt Kasper has this story.

Markeshia Ricks has a story about a bill moving through the Legislature, sponsored by Rep. Lea Fite, D-Jacksonville, that would allow more low-income women in Alabama to receive treatment for breast and cervical cancer.The bill will face an uphill battle as the state braces for budget shortfalls and prepares to cut funding for Alabama’s breast and cervical cancer early-detection program, which is aimed at poor women.

What's next for the Cleburne Industrial Park? Is the race track proposal completely dead? Andy Johns looks into this story.

Will the Anniston City Council be returning to live TV? Council members are supposed to discuss the possibility at the Tuesday night meeting. Megan Nichols will tell us what they decide.

Preachers and pols

The Star is preparing an editorial on controversial statements made by preachers supporting presidential candidates. For more reading, here's a list of links:

1. The American Prospect magazine's blog has a post titled THE CRAZY PREACHER WARS.

2. Marc Armbinder blogs for The Atlantic magazine. Has a post on the subject.

3. Mother Jones magazine first reported the connection between John McCain and an Ohio preacher who, in his writings, calls for a holy war with Islam.

4. The Guardian writes a story on McCain and reaction to his endorsement by an anti-Catholic preacher.

5. The Dallas Morning News' Rod Dreher comments on the importance of the Obama-Wright story.

6. This National Review blog is wall-to-wall with Obama-Wright talk.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

Check out Tuesday's Anniston Star for these stories:

Former Anniston schools superintendent Sammy Lee Felton is suing the city’s school board for firing him, The Star has learned. Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

Dan also has a follow-up story on the Southern Association of Schools and College's report about Anniston High School.

Bill Edwards writes about a group of high school students from Minnesota who are in town volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.

The Alabama Low-Income Housing Coalition hosted a listening post today. What did residents and officials have to say?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Friday in The Star

A former accountant for Calhoun County Habitat for Humanity was arrested and charged Tuesday with allegedly using her position to steal the identity of a co-worker and embezzle money from the organization. Nick Cenegy has this story.

Since 2006, traffic congestion in the area has raised calls for a fix to roads over which nearly 1,400 students travel to the C.E. Hanna School and Oxford Middle School. Council members have pointed to narrow Edith Avenue, which carries C.E. Hanna traffic, as a particularly dangerous route. But, one of the two proposed plans to fix traffic problems at C.E. Hanna Elementary School raises ethical questions, Oxford council members say. Todd South looks at this story.

Matt Kasper checked in with the mural painting being done in Piedmont. What's it look like and how is the project going?

The Alabama Legislature is considering no less than 18 bills that will restrict where sex offenders live, how many sex offenders can live in one house and increase the penalties for committing crimes against children. Markeshia Ricks gives an overview of the bills.

Developers plan to answer the Cleburne County Industrial Board's questions about a proposed racing complex that has drawn the ire of potential neighbors. Andy Johns has this story.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Check out Thursday's Anniston Star for these stories:

A bill from Rep. Lea Fite in the State Legislature this session could ensure that every entity that receives state, county or municipal money and flies the U.S. flag, fly a flag that’s manufactured and purchased in the United States. Markeshia Ricks has this story.

Markeshia also has a story about another bill: The bill, that purports to bolster agriculture in Alabama is pitting farmer against farmer.Supporters say the Family Farm Preservation Act would protect them from city slickers who want their land for subdivisions, while opposing farmers say it will leave them with no recourse to fight confined animal feeding operations (CAFOs).What they all agree on is the need to preserve farming in Alabama.

Calhoun County Coroner Pat Brown confirmed this morning that two bodies found Saturday in a burning Bancroft Avenue house were each shot multiple times and died before the fire.
Brown said the coroner's office was close to identifying one of the victims but was waiting for more information on the other.

Todd South meets with some local Girl Scouts as they celebrate the organization's 96th anniversary. What are local Scout troops doing to mark the occasion?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Coming Wednesday in The Star

Check out Wednesday's Anniston Star for these stories:

A report from the Alabama School Journal shows Anniston Schools have the second highest legal fees in the state per pupil. What's behind those numbers? Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

The National Guard training center at McClellan hosted a "boss lift" - employees from the Guard members' civilian jobs were invited to come and see what they do on weekend drills, just a few weeks before some soldiers are set to deploy overseas. Todd South writes about the training. They'll be an online slideshow and video of the training, too.

The 19-year-old man sought by police in last week’s shooting death of Andre Patterson as he rode in a car on Gurnee Avenue, surrendered himself to police Tuesday afternoon.

Marekshia Ricks has an advance on two happenings in the Legistlature Wednesday: A House committee is taking up a bill that would make elections for Alabama judges non-partisan and a Senate committee will take up a bill relating to farming regulations.

A company that wants to run a multi-state gas pipeline through Oxford held a public meeting in the city. What did residents have to say?

Can you get this cake at a local bakery?

Next week is the fifth anniversary of the beginning of the U.S war in Iraq.

So, Star editors thought, why not bake a birthday cake for the war?

We have. On Sunday, as long as we don't eat it first, it'll be the centerpiece of The Star's Insight section. I hear rumors that it'll have candles of some sort, among other things.

More on this later.

By the way, click over to The Star's food blog -- Star Bite -- and see how our editors/chefs pulled this off.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Coming Tuesday in The Star

Honda’s plant in Lincoln will be the sole producer of the company’s Ridgeline pickups beginning in early 2009, executives and Gov. Bob Riley said today. Riley and company leaders showed off the Ridgeline’s 2008 model and made the announcement at a press conference at the plant Monday. For more about the Ridgeline, see Todd South's story.

School report card information for 2006-07 is out for two Calhoun County systems that held up the release of the cards over one issue: highly qualified teachers. Both systems disputed the information the state showed them before it printed the cards. Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

The Animal Shelter in Anniston is looking for dog food. the 175-200 dogs sheltered there could run out of food as soon as Wednesday. They're hoping the public will help with donations.

Hobson City and Piedmont city councils meet.

Friday, March 07, 2008

This weekend in The Star

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

Markeshia Ricks takes a look at local broadband initiatives - there are several around the state. How would they would fit into anything the state does.

A 19-year-old Anniston man was shot to death early Friday morning. Nick Cenegy has this story.

Dan Whisenhunt stopped by a “Math in Motion” dance presentation for Saks Elementary School students. What was the performance like?

Saturday afternoon at the Birmingham Museum of Art, Donoho School 8th grader Tate Thomas will attempt to break the county’s spelling drought. Todd South will tell you about the competition and also about the last Calhoun County winner - Ray Crocker, who won the statewide title in 1988.

We'll have video online of the Friday night Pinewood Derby.

On Sunday:

With lots of national news about the foreclosure crisis and how it has affected the national economy, what's the local mortgage and foreclosure landscape look like? The numbers are rising, but experts say it's much less dire than in other parts of the country.

Todd South went to the statewide spelling bee in Birmingham and will have a story on how local students did.

Results are in from the latest flyovers looking at pine beetle infestation. Last time we were at epidemic levels in Talladega, Clay and Randolph counties. How are we now?

George Smith has a profile of Cora Saxon, who at 100 years old is still going strong. Cora is 100 She is known all over the South as The Candy Queen from the Saxon Candy Kitchens. She and her husband started in their kitchen in Alexandria.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Thursday in The Star

Coming Thursday in The Star:

The Vagina Monologues are coming to Anniston. Want to know what the Monologues are all about? Read Shawn Ryan's story.

Once again, proponents and opponents of reforming Alabama’s 1901 Constitution made their pilgrimage to Montgomery to plead their cases. This year, like last, proponents of constitutional reform won the battle, but it remains to be seen if this year they can win the war. Members of the House Constitution and Elections Committee voted 9-4 to give a favorable report on a bill that calls for allowing a statewide vote on a constitutional convention. Markeshia Ricks has this story.

A national study finds that there are reasons the flu takes place in winter. What are they? Matt Kasper talks with some local folks about the study and what it means.

We've got full coverage of the CSEPP training today, including a story, video and photos.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Wednesday in The Star

Check out Wednesday's Anniston Star for these stories:

Schools were delayed and everyone hunkered down with the threat of severe weather looming this morning. What hit Alabama? And what kind of weather is on the way? Andy Johns will let you know.

The Chemical Stockpile Emergency Preparedness Program holds annual graded training all morning Wednesday. Todd South will tell you what that's all about.

George Smith writes about Frances and Melvin Woodruff of Lineville . . . married 57 years, now in a second retirement, after working 37 years at Higgins Slacks (til plant closed down), have worked the last 15 or so for the Lineville Nutrition Center, she as manager, he as van driver. . . both retired again Jan. 4.

We'll also have the final part of Editor at large John Fleming's series on the FCC and media ownership rules.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Tuesday in The Star

Coming Tuesday in The Star:

Oxford’s school board approved a $6.2 million contract for construction of its new “freshman academy building” at a special meeting Monday.The contract went to Birmingham’s McCrory Building Company. The 35,000-square-foot academy, part of which will be shaped like an octagon, will be a separate “school within a school” for the high school’s roughly 300 freshmen students. Dan Whisenhunt has this story.

Dan also has a story about local students participating in “Read Across America,” a national event promoted by the National Education Association. In addition to celebrating their love of reading, children also celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

There may be severe weather headed our way and there's also colder temps on tap...and even snow. Local schools are delaying the start of the school day tomorrow by two hours because of the threat of severe weather.

How's it look?

Notes from Monday morning’s new-look Star.

Carol of Weaver and Skip of Oxford were two of several callers unhappy that the new format of the crossword puzzle made it too difficult to read. We agree. According to Vice President for Operations Ed Fowler, that problem will be fixed by Tuesday’s edition.

A number of callers and e-mailers quibbled with the changes to the TV listings page. Kathryn of Anniston says she'll miss the cable new channel listings.
While one caller who did not identify herself complained about the new type face, many others were pleased with it.

Cathy writes:
The new design looks great! It's cleaner, crisper, and just looks much better overall--and I wasn't unhappy with the old look. But I do especially like the new section heads--Sports and Coffee Break in today's edition, which I assume will be carried on for the other sections later in the weekly lineup. I always think the design and layout are the most fun part of editing any publication, so kudos to
whomever did all that. Keep him/her/them on the payroll!

Thanks, Cathy. Many hands were involved in this effort, but Assistant News Editor Lora Reynolds deserves a special mention as the ringleader of the changeover.

Not everyone was so pleased. John writes:
The "relatively static cable news channels" are the only fare saving tv these days! Soap Net and Speed channel?! You've started the trend...dumbing down your newspaper to the morons who would watch this stuff.
Still waiting for Bill O'Reilly's weekly editorial column to appear in your paper. C'mon Davis, give us another perspective of the news, not the one-sided slant given now.

We don't like anyone calling readers "morons." Sounds like something Bill O'Reilly would do.

Another Bill (we assume) weighs in:
Sounds like another excuse for trimming paper size, cost and more importantly content to me. A front page that has virtually became an index; as opposed to lead articles in the national news. Articles within the paper is oft times found to be old news when compared to the Birmingham paper or Wall Street journal. A whole page of TV listings, give me a break, I seem to remember that each Friday you publish a weeks content of TV in a pull out.
I think the Anniston Star should change it's name to the Anniston "Grit." We got about as much news in the weekly of old for a dime.

The Birmingham News is a fine paper, no doubt. Ditto the Wall Street Journal. But I can't find a story in today's editions of the News or the Journal about the Calhoun County schools that will soon join the state's successful Alabama Math and Science Technology Initiative (AMSTI). By the way don't miss The Star's video that accompanies the story. It serves as a guide to one small way that AMSTI works.

Today's Star includes a full page of political news in advance of Tuesday's primary elections, a smartly done AP story on a looming credit crisis, a comprehensive examination of the nation's juvenile detention system complete with large full-color map illustrating the issue's scope and a thorough report on the world and nation.

Oh, we shouldn't leave off the second part of John Fleming's four-part series on how federal communications policies have made an impact on our local market and The Star's editorial on local school districts' track record hiring minority teachers.

Then there's conservative columnist George Will's tribute to the recently departed William F. Buckley. It's a nice companion to the well-done piece written by JSU professor Christopher Westley in Sunday's Insight section.

I could go on, but I think you get the point.

Notice anything different?

Notice anything different with today’s paper? The changes are obvious enough.
The newspaper’s width has been narrowed to conform with what is becoming the industry’s 24-inch standard. Also, we’re using new typefaces in our headlines and stories; we believe these changes will make the paper more readable.
We’ve also improved our television listings page, replacing the relatively static cable news channels with networks offering varied programming, including the Speed Channel, the Science Channel and SoapNet.
Got any feedback? Drop me a line at either 256-235-3540 or
-- Bob Davis, Editor