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Alabama Cotton Crop
4:31 pm
Thu October 4, 2012

Experts Are Predicting High Cotton Yields

Agriculture experts predict a good year for norhtern Alabama's cotton crop.
calsidyrose Flickr

Agriculture experts are predicting a bountiful year for northern Alabama's cotton crop.

Heavy rain this week forced some farmers to delay harvesting another week or two.

However, planters say the fall rain has been welcome after a scorching summer that featured consistent heat and little rain.

Eric Schavey, regional extension agent for northwest Alabama, predicts a solid cotton crop this year. He said less rain over the coming days would be more beneficial to the cotton crops. More rain could lead to boll rot, some of which he's seen in some plants.

Rural Cell Service
5:18 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

Company Wins $10.2M Grant For Rural Cell Service

A small cell company has won a $10 million grant to provide rural cell service to west Alabama.
Andy Arthur Flickr

A small cell phone company has won a more than $10 million federal grant to expand wireless service in one of Alabama's most isolated regions.

The Federal Communications Commission says Pine Belt Cellular was the only company that sought the money to build new cell phone infrastructure along almost 1,600 miles of roads in five west Alabama counties.

The president of the company, John Nettles, says Pine Belt will use the funding to construct and connect towers and antennas in parts of Choctaw, Dallas, Marengo, Perry and Wilcox counties.

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Governor's Home Burglarized
5:11 pm
Wed October 3, 2012

Governor Bentley's Private Home Burglarized

Tuscaloosa Police say Gov. Bentley's private home was burglarized Sunday.
governor.alabama.gov Office of the Governor

Police say someone has broken into the private home of Gov. Robert Bentley in Tuscaloosa.

A police statement issued Wednesday says officers responded to an alarm that went off at Bentley's home shortly before midnight on Sunday.

A television was taken, but police say other items weren't reported missing.

Police say someone entered the house through a window by force. No arrests have been made, but police say they are investigating.

Arts & Life
8:32 am
Wed October 3, 2012

Volunteers From UAE Help Rebuild Tuscaloosa

Khawla Alhosani, left, and Zainab Saeed work at a home in the Alberta area of Tuscaloosa Tuesday.
Dusty Compton/Tuscaloosa News

More than a dozen volunteers from the United Arab Emirates are helping to rebuild damage in Tuscaloosa from the April 27, 2011, tornado.

The Tuscaloosa News reports (http://bit.ly/SxLkoJ ) that the 13 volunteers traveled more than 30 hours to get to Tuscaloosa this week. They're part of a volunteer social program called Takatof, part of the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development. Takatof has helped mobilize volunteers and has sent them all over the world, including China, Korea, Africa and Pakistan.

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Arts & Life
8:27 am
Wed October 3, 2012

Ala. governor Seeks Aid for 5 More Counties

Waves crash into the public fishing pier at Gulf State Park in Gulf Shores, Ala., shortly before Hurricane Isaac made landfall in Louisiana on Tuesday, Aug. 28, 2012.
AP Photo/Jay Reeves

Alabama's governor is asking for federal assistance for five more counties affected by Hurricane Isaac.

Gov. Robert Bentley sent a letter to the Federal Emergency Management Agency saying Covington, Dallas, Geneva, Monroe and Perry counties in south and west Alabama suffered $2.5 million in damage. Bentley said that's based on damage assessments completed this week.

Politics & Government
8:21 am
Wed October 3, 2012

Hart Elected Chair of Ala Securities Commission

dentbaker.com

Birmingham accountant James L. Hart has been elected chairman of the Alabama Securities Commission.

A member of the regulating board since December 2010, Hart was selected unanimously for the leadership position by fellow commissioners.


Hart leads the forensic accounting and litigation services decision at the Birmingham firm of Dent, Baker & Co.


Hart, a native of Huntsville, was first appointed to the commission by former Gov. Bob Riley. Hart's current term ends in 2014.

Party Switch
8:02 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

Ala. Democratic Senator's Switch Could Be Near

Democratic State Senator Jerry Fielding says any cnahge of parties will be announced on his timetable.
http://www.legislature.state.al.us/senate

Democratic state Sen. Jerry Fielding says any change of parties will be announced on his time table and not by the state Democratic Party chairman.

Fielding responded Tuesday to an announcement Monday by state Democratic Party Chairman Mark Kennedy. Kennedy said Fielding is planning to switch to the Republican Party.

Fielding said he's had several conversations with members of the Republican Party. He said an announcement could happen in the near future, but he's not ready to do it yet.

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Blankets For Needy
7:48 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

Ala. First Lady Resumes Blankets For Needy Effort

Ala. First Lady Diane Bentley is continuing a program to distribute blankets to the needy during the winter months
http://governor.alabama.gov/firstlady.aspx

Alabama First Lady Dianne Bentley is continuing a program to distribute blankets to homeless and displaced families during the winter months.

The first lady announced the start of the program called "Blankets with a Blessing" Monday. She said new quilts and blankets would be collected from businesses and individuals through Nov. 13. The blankets will be donated to a domestic violence shelter somewhere in the state.

A total of 55 blankets were donated last year and were given to SafeHouse shelter in Shelby County.

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Natural Gas Prices
7:38 pm
Tue October 2, 2012

Dunn Says Hedging Cost Alabama Gas Customers $245 M

Commissioner Dunn says hedging cost Alabama Gas Corp. customers $245 million since 2003.
Wikimedia Commons

A member of the Public Service Commission says hedging agreements on natural gas prices have added nearly $245 million to the bills of Alabama Gas Corp. customers since the state's largest natural gas distributor started the practice in 2003.

PSC member Terry Dunn said Alabama Gas is one of many utilities that used the risk-management strategy and saw it "go very badly in recent years." He said it points to the need for the PSC to re-examine its rules on hedging agreements.

Politics & Government
8:12 am
Tue October 2, 2012

Voters to Decide on Rewritten Constitution Parts

Alabama House member Paul DeMarco.
legislature.state.al.us

Some members of the Alabama Legislature have been trying for more than 10 years to rewrite the Alabama Constitution by doing it one article at a time.


Two of the rewritten articles are finally ready to go before voters. Proposed amendments rewriting two sections on the 1901 Constitution relating to banking and corporations passed the Alabama House and Senate earlier this year and will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.


It's a similar process that was used in the early 1970s to rewrite the state's judicial articles.

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Politics & Government
8:03 am
Tue October 2, 2012

Ala. Governor Won't Implement Part of Health Law

governor.alabama.gov

Gov. Robert Bentley says he won't implement part of the federal Affordable Health Care Act in Alabama.


Bentley's aides announced Monday that he sent a letter to Secretary of Health Kathleen Sebelius saying he's an opponent of the act. Bentley said he will not make a decision on establishing minimum benefits for those buying individual and small group policies in Alabama. He called it irresponsible to decide what Alabama's benchmark will be for essential health benefits without clear guidance from the federal government.

New Meth Law
5:13 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

New Law Makes It Harder To Buy Key Meth Ingredient

A new law looks to make it tougher for people to get a key ingredient needed to produce methamphetamine.
Radspunk Wikimedia Commons

A new law has taken effect that's aimed at making it tougher for people to get a key ingredient needed to produce the illegal drug methamphetamine.

At the same time, the new law insures that allergy sufferers will still have access to the same substance, pseudoephedrine, which can mean the difference between clogged sinuses and being able to breathe.

The new law stops a process called "smurfing" where manufacturers of meth ask various people to buy pseudoephedrine in small amounts from different locations.

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Tax Preparer Test
4:51 pm
Mon October 1, 2012

IRS Urges Tax Preparers To Schedule Testing

The Internal Revenue Service is urging Alabama tax preparers to take their competency test as the deadline nears.
Ray Tsang Flickr

The Internal Revenue Service is urging the nearly 6,000 tax preparers in Alabama to schedule their competency test now as the exam deadline nears.


The IRS said in a statement Monday that the appropriate test for most of the tax preparers will be the Registered Tax Return Preparer (RTRP) competency test.


The RTRP test has been available since November 2011 and is being administered at 260 testing sites nationwide. However, if too many preparers delay, available seats will be scarce.

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Politics & Government
8:37 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Census: Alabamians Pay Second-Lowest Taxes

facebook.com

State, city and county governments in Alabama collected fewer tax dollars per resident than any other state except Idaho in fiscal 2010.

The Birmingham News (bit.ly/VeL2DQ) reports that figures from the Census Bureau show Alabama at $2,779 per resident, while Idaho was $10 lower at $2,769. The national average was $4,112 per person.

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Politics & Government
8:34 am
Mon October 1, 2012

Tuscaloosa County to Vote on Employee Pay Raises

Tuscaloosa County employees should soon know if they can expect a pay raise in the coming year.

The Tuscaloosa News reports (http://bit.ly/St1b7O ) that county commissioners are scheduled to take up the pay raise in their vote Wednesday on an $84.7 million budget for fiscal 2013.

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