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Preview: Breaking News from The Birmingham News

Retired: Real-Time News from Birmingham

Archives of local news updates from Birmingham and surrounding communities

Last Build Date: Thu, 11 Sep 2014 17:53:58 UTC

Copyright: Copyright 2016

Jefferson County's criticism of federal receiver in HR dept. continues to mount

Mon, 02 Jun 2014 12:30:00 UTC


Jefferson County has questioned, and sometimes challenged, the federal receiver on everything from his budget to his decision to halt drug tests for most new county workers . . . Dr. Ronald Sims (left); David Carrington   BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- A federal judge has asked repeatedly for Jefferson County officials and a court appointed receiver to work cooperatively to end a 30-year old consent decree over the county's hiring practices. That doesn't seem to be happening. Commission President David Carrington said in a radio interview Friday that the county's relationship with Receiver Ronald Sims, on the job for seven months, was "strained." That was also the same interview in which Carrington said Sims's decision to appoint an interim director at Cooper Green Mercy Health Services was "not strategically wise"; not a "good management technique" and Sims had "lost credibility" by the way the appointment was done. Full story here. U.S. District Court Judge Lynwood Smith Jr. last year appointed Sims as receiver in the county's human resources department after finding the county in contempt of its consent decree over the hiring of blacks and women. The judge has patiently, and respectfully, reminded county officials during status conferences of his order that gives Sims the "full power to direct, control, operate, manage, and administer all decisions by the county" pertaining to employment. Commissioners have questioned, and sometimes challenged, the receiver on everything from his budget; decision to halt drug tests for most new workers; authority to hire a deputy county manager and represent the county at EEOC hearings. On Friday's "The Matt Murphy Show", Carrington was asked whether Sims "overstepped his bounds" in naming an interim director at Cooper Green. Carrington replied: "I do and I shared that with him." Efforts to reach Sims for comment were unsuccessful. Sims, a highly respected business school professor, has written in court filings that his main focus is to bring the county into compliance with its consent decree and establish lawful selection procedures for the hiring and promotion of employees. He has also written that the county suffers from low morale and lingering management issues due to a lack of sound leadership. In an op-ed article last month on, Sims called out local leaders for not articulating a shared vision, strategy, or plan for what Cooper Green Health Services should be and how to get there. The op-ed surprised county officials, including Carrington, who said he had an hour and a half "private" conversation with Sims on Thursday. Carrington said in his radio interview that "both the county and the receiver" had made missteps since Sims was appointed, but the two sides are "now talking to each other and not at each other." If the county is to put the 30 year old consent decree behind they will have to do more than just talk. After all, it was Carrington who said in his radio interview that prior commissions paid "lip service" to the consent decree, but did not comply. [...]

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Blount County alcohol sales: Alabama Supreme Court to hold session at Samford University on appeal

Thu, 11 Sep 2014 14:12:34 UTC


The Alabama Supreme Court has announced that on Nov. 6 it will hear an appeal of Blount County Circuit Judge Steven King's ruling last fall that paved the way for Oneonta, Blountsville and other towns in the county to hold "wet/dry" votes on whether alcohol should be sold in their communities.


BIRMINGHAM, Alabama - Alcohol sales are already underway at some locations in Oneonta, and one Blountsville grocery store could begin sales soon, after voters in those two Blount County cities approved alcohol sales referendums in June.

But the legal fight to keep alcohol sales out of those two cities - and the rest of "dry" Blount County - continues.

The Alabama Supreme Court has announced that on Nov. 6 it will hear an appeal of Blount County Circuit Judge Steven King's ruling last fall that paved the way for Oneonta, Blountsville and other towns in the county to hold "wet/dry" votes on whether alcohol should be sold in their communities.

The Supreme Court will hear arguments on the issue in a special session at the Leslie S. Wright Fine Arts Center on the campus of Samford University.

A few attorneys had told last year that if the entire law was ruled unconstitutional then the few dozen small "wet" oases across the state that had already voted would have to go "dry" again. 

The court will be considering Judge King's ruling, which struck down a portion of a 2009 state law that lowered the population requirements for hold wet/dry referendums from 7,000 down to 1,000. The judge said that law, however, unconstitutionally excluded Oneonta and other cities in Blount, Clay and Randolph counties from holding votes.

In his ruling, King struck down the law's offending language that had excluded the three counties, but left the remainder of the statute intact.

Two Blount County pastors appealed King's ruling to the Alabama Supreme Court. Meanwhile, voters in both Oneonta and Blountsville approved sales in June. Sales have begun at some locations in Oneonta. Lucky's supermarket recently became the first location in Blountsville to be awarded an alcohol sales license, the town's clerk said today. But the grocery store has not yet begun sales, she said.

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Labor Day: Websites, apps and hotlines to make travel easier

Fri, 29 Aug 2014 17:02:07 UTC


Many states have road condition information available by phone and via smartphone apps.

As the Labor Day holiday and college football season kick off, the region's roadways will be under added pressure during the next few days as travelers head to their destinations.

If traveling by car, as AAA estimates 30 million people will do this weekend, many states provide road conditions and travel information by dialing 511.

Many states also have limited construction through the heavy travel period. In Alabama, temporary lane closures will be suspended beginning Friday through midnight Monday.

The following are some helpful links for travel across the Southeast U.S. during the next few days:


Road conditions are available online and the site is mobile-friendly.


Florida511 features traffic cameras and road incidents.

There also is a Twitter account for each region of the state. Get more information from the Florida Department of Transportation on ways to get travel information, including smartphone apps.


NaviGAtor, run by the Georgia Department of Transportation, has construction and weather information. NaviGAtor also is available on Twitter.


Traffic cameras and other info are available at

The Mississippi Department of Transportation also provides Twitter updates.


Tennessee 511 provides road info on its website and via Twitter.

For drivers going to Tennessee, travel conditions are available by phone at 877-244-0065.

The Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis and Nashville metro areas have more detailed information through TDOT SmartWay.

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Interstate 65 north: Traffic flow resumes after Green Springs crash

Thu, 05 Jun 2014 11:49:26 UTC


Right lane has been reopened as of 7:35 a.m.

(image) ALDOT camera image of traffic along Interstate 65 northbound between Montgomery Highway and Alford Avenue at 8:34 a.m. Monday, June 30, 2014. Major delays continue from a wreck which has closed all but one lane at Green Springs Avenue. 

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- A crash between an 18-wheeler, a garbage truck and an SUV quickly turned Interstate 65's Monday morning commute into two hours of standstill chaos and clogged several side routes.

The crash occurred near the Green Springs Avenue interchange. Rescuers had to extricate someone who was trapped in the SUV.

At one time, the interstate was completely blocked. Authorities later reopened one lane before the crash was cleared more than two hours later.

There weren't any reported injuries, Birmingham Police Lt. Sean Edwards said.

9:03 a.m.: Traffic cameras show congestion has cleared at Oxmoor Road, and speeds are picking up along I-65 through Montgomery Highway.

8:28 a.m.: The left two lanes remain blocked at the crash scene.

Crews are putting down material to dry up spilled fuel from the crash.

Major traffic delays continue, with vehicles at a standstill back toward Interstate 459. Side streets also are clogged including Columbiana Road, Green Springs Highway, Lakeshore Parkway and Valley Avenue.

7:54 a.m.: Major delays continue. I-65 northbound should be avoided, as traffic extends to Interstate 459.

Police are reporting no one was injured in the crash, Lt. Sean Edwards said. The crash blocks the two left lanes at Green Springs.

Side streets are clogged, too.

Blackwell's Pub in Cahaba Heights continues cleanup one week after fire

Thu, 05 Jun 2014 02:00:00 UTC


The Vestavia Hills Fire Department battled the blaze at Ashley Mac's for at least three hours, said the Pub's owner Tyler DeStefano.

VESTAVIA HILLS, Alabama -- For about a week now, the staff at Blackwell's Pub has been working inside the dimly lit building at 3151 Green Valley Rd. with protective masks and gloves.

Along with the K&S Done Right cleanup crew, they've been sifting through the water-damaged and smoke-infested items of the popular hangout after a kitchen fire tore through an adjacent business early Wednesday morning, May 28.

The Vestavia Hills Fire Department battled the blaze at Ashley Mac's for at least three hours, said the Pub's owner Tyler DeStefano.

Luckily for both DeStefano and his business partner, Chris Abrams, the damage to Blackwell's involved only the smoke and water damage from the fire department's hoses. Next door at Ashley Mac's, things looked more complicated. But because of the smoke damage, he said, everything will have to be professionally cleaned.

"This is in a way, a blessing in disguise," said DeStefano.

The work that needs to be done to the building has allowed Stefano and Abrams to look into not only rebuilding the space, but improving it as well. Insurance money will help cover the necessary repairs. From there, the plan is to add more draft beer options, new TVs and update the menu, he said.

"We appreciate everything the community has done for us during this time," said DeStefano. "We'll never be able to thank the fire department enough for what they did."

DeStefano said that when the pub is back and running--in about two or three weeks, conservatively--he hopes the community will continue to support them.

"We're doing what we can to make sure that we come back as good as we can for everyone who has supported us through it all," he said.

For more information about Blackwell's visit their Facebook page by clicking here.

Efforts to reach Ashley Mac's for comment were not immediately successful. An answering service at the Cahaba Heights location provided the following message: "Due to a fire at our Cahaba Heights location, this location will be closed until further notice."

Ashley Mac's has two other locations in the Birmingham-area. For more information, click here.

For more Vestavia Hills news, click here.

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Cahaba Lilies make a beautiful show in the middle of Buxahatchee Creek

Thu, 05 Jun 2014 01:30:00 UTC


I was intrigued by the stand of Cahaba Lilies growing outside of the Cahaba River Watch video

SHELBY, Alabama - Sometimes you discover something right in your own backyard and it bugs you just enough until you find out a little more about it. Recently a friend shared some pictures taken around Buxahatchee Creek of Hymenocallis coronaria--more commonly known around here as the Cahaba Lily-- and I had to find out more about them.

I was intrigued by the stand of Cahaba Lilies since I had only ever seen them around the Cahaba River. I called my friend Edwin Brasher to ask if he could take me to them to make some photographs. Edwin agreed to take me. He grew up hunting and fishing in the woods around Buxahatchee Creek near Shelby, Alabama where the water stops flowing and becomes Lay Lake. 

After a brisk hike across several logging roads and along some overgrown trails we reached the creek and began our slow and careful journey along a slippery rock covered creek bed. Several fish broke the surface of the water ahead of us taking in a late afternoon bug snack as we sloshed through the creek. It didn't take long until we rounded a bend in the creek and a stand of lilies about 50 feet long and 30 feet wide greeted us with their bright white blooms beaming upward.

The blooms tend to open later in the day and will quickly wilt by the next day. They are found on rocky shoals in swiftly running water and give off a sightly fragrant smell. They only grow in the Southeastern United States and are found in South Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.


This year's blooming season is nearly over--blooms can usually be spotted from Mothers Day till Fathers Day during a typical year. If you missed out you can still enjoy a canoe trip down the Cahaba River or make plans for next year's Cahaba Lily Festival in West Blocton.

Do you have a little know outdoor adventure near you? If you would like to share let me know. I would love to come explore and share with our readers in a future post. Send me an email or click on the link by my name at the top of this post.

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Forecast: Partly cloudy night in Birmingham, but expect a hot, maybe rainy Thursday

Thu, 05 Jun 2014 01:00:00 UTC


High temperatures should hover around 90 the next few days, with daily chances of pop-up showers and storms.

(image) View full size 

Wednesday night should be dry in the Birmingham area, but expect a chance of showers and storms and a hot day Thursday, with highs around 90, according to the National Weather Service.

High temperatures should hover around 90 the next few days, with daily chances of pop-up showers and storms.

Wednesday night: Partly cloudy, with a low around 71.

Thursday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 90.

Thursday night: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly before 11 p.m. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 72.

Friday: A 50 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Partly sunny, with a high near 88.

Friday night: A 30 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms, mainly before midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low around 71.

Saturday: A 40 percent chance of showers and thunderstorms. Mostly sunny, with a high near 91.

Visit for more information.

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Winston County sheriff's deputy charged with manufacuturing meth

Thu, 05 Jun 2014 00:33:11 UTC


Sgt. Grady Keith Concord, 41, is charged with second-degree manufacturing methamphetamine.

(image) View full sizeGrady Keith Concord (Photo courtesy of the Winston County Sheriff's Office) 

WINSTON COUNTY, Alabama -- A Winston County sheriff's investigator faces a charge of manufacturing methamphetamine, Sheriff Rick Harris said Wednesday.

Sgt. Grady Keith Concord, 41, of Nauvoo, is charged with second-degree manufacturing methamphetamine and has been transferred to the Lauderdale County Jail, where he's being held on a $500,000 bond, Harris said.

The FBI, the Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board and the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency are assisting in the investigation, and more charges are expected from state and federal agencies Thursday. Harris said Concord was fired from the sheriff's office Wednesday.

"We were informed of his criminal behavior, we investigated, and we made an arrest. This is something we do daily," Harris said. "There is nothing easy about policing your own employees. You just want to see them in a better view, but sometimes they fail you and themselves."

Harris said Concord was acting alone. Harris said he was disappointed in the deputy and that actions like this won't be tolerated among law enforcement officers.

Updated at 8:28 p.m. to correct the total of Concord's bond. Updated at 9:36 p.m. with more information from Sheriff Harris.

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Treat dad to an afternoon at the Birmingham Zoo for free this Father's Day

Thu, 05 Jun 2014 00:23:00 UTC


In honor of the most important man in our lives, the Birmingham Zoo will offer free admission for dad with the purchase of a child's full-price admission.

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama -- This Father's Day, treat dad to a day packed with "wild" adventures. In honor of the most important man in our lives, the Birmingham Zoo will offer free admission for dad with the purchase of a child's full-price admission.

During the day, guests can get a glimpse at the Zoo's youngest animals in "The Baby Bunch," take an aerial journey 20 feet above ground on the new Jane H. Brock Soaring Safari Zipline Adventure, experience the Predator Zone, watch an alligator feeding and join a "keeper meet and greet" in the reptile building.

Guests can also take part in the Red Diamond Sea Lion Splash Show, which showcases new behaviors from the Zoo's California sea lions and features an even closer look at the aquatic species. The Wildlife Show, another favorite, is an exciting and educational narrated presentation that includes a variety of animals trained to exhibit their natural behaviors. Visitors will have a unique opportunity for an up-close encounter with some of the Zoo's most fascinating animals.

The day doesn't have to end there. Other activities include feeding the giraffes at the Kiwanis Giraffe Encounter, learning about the African bull elephants during the Boma Encounter, feeding the colorful lorikeets, seeing an assortment of butterflies in Granny's Butterfly Garden, cooling off in the Splash Pads and participating in a pelican feeding.

Extended summer hours--9 a.m. - 7 p.m. Tuesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday--now through August 10, mean there's even more time to explore all the Zoo has to offer.

The cost to ride the zipline is $12 (plus tax) for members or $15 (plus tax) for non-members, not including the purchase of a regular priced admission ticket. The Kiwanis Giraffe Encounter is open daily from 9:30-11:30 a.m. and 3 p.m. The cost to feed is $3 (plus tax).

For more information about the Zoo, click here.

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Hoover school board to consider 'reduction in force' Monday; library aide jobs among the cuts

Wed, 04 Jun 2014 23:43:39 UTC


The state has quit providing funding for library aides, an AEA official said. The Farr Administration Building for Hoover City Schools  HOOVER, Alabama - The Hoover school board on Monday is being asked to consider a "reduction in force," which basically is the elimination of certain jobs. The job cuts will include all library aides in the Hoover school system but likely will include other positions as well, said Dana Clement, the Alabama Education Association representative that works with the Hoover system. "I'm aware that library aides are being eliminated. I've been told that there will be other positions eliminated as well," Clement said. "At this time, I don't know to what extent and what those positions will be." State records show the Hoover school system has at least 14 library aides spread throughout the system. Library aides already have been notified about the cuts, Clement said. Hoover school board member Donna Frazier  Hoover school board President Donna Frazier this afternoon said that on Tuesday, she received a copy of personnel actions the school board is being asked to consider Monday and that the term "reduction is force" is a part of the report. Frazier, who is starting her 10th year on the Hoover school board, said she was unfamiliar with the term and therefore couldn't say exactly what it meant. "I've never seen that in all my years on the school board," she said. "That is something that needs to be discussed openly at the work session (on Monday). I will ask (personnel director) Mary Veal to be prepared to discuss that openly." Efforts to contact Veal, Hoover schools Superintendent Andy Craig, Assistant Superintendent Melody Greene and Hoover City Schools spokesman Jason Gaston for comment this afternoon were unsuccessful. Clement said it's her understanding that the state has quit providing funding for library aides, meaning that if those jobs were to stay, local school systems will have to provide the funding for them. Hoover school leaders, who have been looking for ways to reduce or eliminate budget deficits, chose to eliminate the jobs, she said. The Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills school systems, two other systems with which she works, have no plans to eliminate those jobs, she said. Clement said she has been told that other positions being considered for elimination were affiliated with special programs, not general education, but she does not know details. She hopes further job cuts are minimal and some the school system can recover at a later date, she said. "Hopefully, the positions will be able to be funded again in the future," Clement said. "I know they're important to the academic programs and that there will be a loss because of the elimination of the positions." The Hoover school board's action meeting is set for 5:30 p.m. Monday, but the board likely will have a work session earlier, Frazier said. The time for Monday's work session has not yet been set, but recent work sessions have been at 4 p.m., she said. Frazier said she has not received a draft agenda for Monday's work session or action meeting yet. However, she knows that Paulette Pearson, the former school board president whose term ended last month, will be presenting results of Superintendent Andy Craig's evaluation, she said. This post was updated at 2:30 p.m. Thursday to show that state records indicate Hoover City Schools has at least 14 library aides. See more news from Hoover at [...]

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