Anniston

Amtrak passengers between New Orleans and Atlanta will be affected by routine maintenance on the tracks next week, and will be put on buses instead.

Shannon Arledge / CDP

A facility in Anniston, Alabama that trains first responders is suspending its use of chemical and biological substances after it mistakenly used lethal ricin during training exercises.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency says it's halting use of the chemicals through January at the Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston.

The agency made the announcement earlier this week on a website set up to provide updates on the center, where thousands of firefighters, paramedics and others have trained.

More than $2 million dollars in federal funding is coming to Alabama and two other Southern states to restore and improve passenger rail service.

Yesterday, the Southern Rail Commission announced Federal Railroad Administration funding for eleven communities in Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana.

The communities will get money for station-area planning and construction projects to improve safety, access and convenience.

The city of Anniston may be the latest community to remove the Confederate battle flag.

The City Council is set to vote on whether the stars and bars should be banned from all city owned property. After a work session last week, some council members felt banning the controversial battle flag would have a positive effect on the city.

Councilman *Seyram Selase says banning the Confederate flag shouldn’t be a debate of heritage or hate.

Civil rights advocates are pursuing a complaint against the Etowah County Detention Center in Gadsden.

The complaint covers a wide range of conditions-related issues including medical neglect and alleged abuse by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers against foreign detainees.

Christina Mansfield is the co-founder of Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC). She says the report alleges how ICE officers have physically assaulted and coerced detainees into signing travel documents that could prompt deportation.

The Anniston City Council recently voted to give the historic Victoria Inn to Alabama Senate President Pro Tem Del Marsh, free of charge.

The city council voted to transfer the downtown hotel to Senator Marsh's company, Marsh Properties. The agreement stipulates that Marsh Properties must spend at least $1.5 million to renovate the 19th century building, and that it must continue operations as a hotel for at least 15 years.

Weather forecasters along the Tennessee Valley are warning residents of northern and central Alabama to be on guard for icy roads this morning.

The overall threat of snow and sleet has eased over much of Alabama. But temperatures are expected to hover right around the freezing mark, and in some cases below freezing, as residents recover from a nasty ice storm.

Andrea Mabry Photography

A new book from an assistant professor at the University of Alabama focuses on pollution problems in Anniston in the mid 1990's. The book titled “Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution, and Justice in an All-American Town” tells the story of the town’s struggle with PCB contamination. Monsanto had been accused of dumping PCBs in the predominantly black community and people were getting sick.  A lawsuit was eventually settled in 2003 with seven hundred million dollars for the plaintiffs and the clean-up.  Author Ellen Griffith Spears began interviews over ten years ago.

http://nc.as.ua.edu

A new book tells the story of decades of chemical pollution in the east Alabama city of Anniston.

Written by University of Alabama researcher Ellen Griffith Spears, "Baptized in PCBs: Race, Pollution and Justice in an All-American Town" traces the history of the toxic chemical in the city.

The book details how the production of the chemical polychlorinated biphenyls led to Anniston being once listed among the most toxic towns in America.

whitehouse.gov

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx visited a western Alabama bus manufacturing plant as part of a national tour to highlight the importance of infrastructure investments.

AL.com reports Anthony Foxx toured the North American Bus Indus

tries plant in Anniston Wednesday to try drumming up support for a national infrastructure plan President Barack Obama plans to send to Congress.