Decatur

A judge has dropped sex charges against two school employees, saying the state law is overbroad and unconstitutional.

Morgan County Circuit Judge Glenn Thompson dismissed charges against 44-year-old Carrie Witt and 27-year-old David Solomon yesterday. Witt is a former teacher at Decatur High School who was arrested in March 2016 for allegedly having sex with two Decatur High students, one 17 and one 18. Solomon is a former contract teacher at Falkville High School accused of having sex with a 17-year-old Falkville High student.

152nd MP Ceremony
WHNT-TV

Members of Alabama’s Army National Guard are heading out to active duty soon.

The approximately 40 soldiers of the 152nd Military Police Company, out of Decatur, Alabama, will be heading to Cuba to oversee internal security and detainee operations at Guantanamo Bay.

traillink.com

A $333,000 grant has been awarded to Decatur and will be used to extend the Bill Sims Bike Trail farther into the southwest part of the city. 

Republican state Senator Arthur Orr, of Decatur, said Friday the federal grant is administered through the Alabama Department of Transportation's Transportation Alternative Program.

The Decatur Daily reports the roughly 1-mile asphalt trail would run along the north side of Modaus Road from Cedar Ridge Middle School to Jack Allen Private Drive near Jack Allen Sports Complex.

Water quality activists are weighing the benefits of a partial court settlement over water quality in the Decatur area this week. 

U.S. District Judge Abdul Kallon issued the verdict authorizing a $5 million payment from chemical manufacturer Daikin America. It’s related to ongoing litigation over perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs, that were manufactured around Decatur for years before they were outlawed in the U.S.

The settlement is expected to be used to set up a temporary filtration system for drinking water from the Tennessee River.

The United Methodist Disaster Relief Warehouse in Decatur is expanding their efforts this year to victims of the recent tornadoes and wildfires in Alabama.

The warehouse primarily focuses on giving relief supplies and Christmas gifts to Haiti, Honduras and the Dominican Republic. This year they are focusing on supplying gifts for children that lost their homes and belongings in the recent local disasters. 

The Alabama Department of Transportation plans to hold a public meeting in Huntsville on its proposed statewide transportation plan.

The meeting is set for 5 p.m. on Sept. 20 at the Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments.

The plan summarizes current conditions of the state's transportation system and Alabama's needs and priorities for the next 25 years.

State lawyers are hoping to set a date for the execution of a death row inmate who unsuccessfully challenged Alabama's lethal injection method as unconstitutional.

Last week, the Alabama Attorney General's office asked the Alabama Supreme Court to set an execution date for Thomas Arthur "as soon as possible." The request comes after a federal judge ruled for the state and against Arthur's claims that the state's lethal injection method was unconstitutional earlier this month.

Supporters of the family of a 19-year-old man shot and killed by a Mobile police officer last month are calling for criminal charges against the officer and governmental changes.

A new national report shows Alabama is trailing the rest of the country in overall child well-being.

The Annie E. Casey Foundation is out with its annual Kids Count Book this week. The study ranks child welfare based on indicators in four areas including economics, education, health and family. Although Alabama has seen some improvements, the state ranks 46th in the country for economic well-being and 48th in education.

The ethics case of Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard is now in the hands of the jury.  APR’s MacKenzie Bates reports from the TK Davis Justice Center in Opelika…  

   Lee County Circuit Judge Jacob Walker handed the case to the jury just before two o’clock this afternoon.  They’re trying to determine if Mike Hubbard used his positions as House Speaker and former state party chair to make money and obtain business and investment for his companies.

A utility in north Alabama is telling residents not to drink any tap water due to chemical contamination.

The West Morgan-East Lawrence Water Authority held a news conference in Decatur yesterday about potentially hazardous levels of two chemicals in tap water sourced from the Tennessee River.

The Environmental Protection Agency recently issued an advisory about the chemicals, and authority general manager Don Sims says the system's 10,000 customers shouldn't drink or cook with tap water since it contains them.

UAB Hospital
UAB

Alabama lawmakers plan to hold hearings on the state's Medicaid program tomorrow.

The House and Senate general fund budget committees have scheduled a joint meeting tomorrow to discuss funding options for the government health care program that covers approximately a million Alabamians.

House Speaker Mike Hubbard says lawmakers plan to question Medicaid officials about the agency's finances and costs.

Alabama’s Attorney General Luther Strange is asking the state Ethics Commission to reconsider an opinion that he says may undermine the state ethics law.

Strange sent a letter earlier this month asking commissioners to revisit advice they gave to state representative Patricia Todd. The commission told Todd she could advocate and vote on bills backed by her employer, an organization that works on gay and lesbian issues. The opinion says that’s OK, as long as the votes were on issues and not a financial benefit to her employer.

The Tennessee Riverkeeper has announced its intention to sue several entities including chemical manufacturer 3M over pollution in the Wheeler Reservoir.

The riverkeeper plans to sue 3M as well as BFI Waste Systems of Alabama, Decatur Utilities and the City of Decatur. They allege those groups are responsible for contaminating the waterway with perfluorinated compounds, or PFCs. PFCs tend to accumulate in the bodies of humans and animals, and exposure has been linked to diseases like cancer, thyroid disease and ulcerative colitis.

A northern Alabama airport has plans for expansion and is looking to purchase more land.

Pryor Field, a regional airport serving the Decatur and Athens areas, has received a grant from the Federal Aviation Administration to purchase more than 22 acres northwest of the airport terminal. The FAA is donating nearly $650,000, which will cover 90% of the acquisition. The airport will cover the remaining 10%.

A federal appeals court has upheld the bribery conviction and prison sentence of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman.

Yesterday, the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Siegelman was not entitled to a new trial. The judges also upheld Siegelman's 78-month sentence.

This ruling is the latest legal blow to former Governor Siegelman, who has been fighting to overturn his 2006 conviction in a government corruption case. A federal jury convicted Siegelman of appointing former HealthSouth CEO Richard Scrushy to a state board in exchange for campaign donations.

Federal grant money will be awarded to help former employees of Decatur's International Paper find new jobs.

The U.S. Department of Labor will be awarding nearly $825,000 in National Emergency Grant funding to help in the job search. A news release from the agency said the money would be used to "boost assistance at Alabama Career Center offices in Sheffield and Decatur to help the former mill employees secure new jobs".

International Paper employed 1,100 workers in the Decatur area. The plant closed earlier this year.

Florida Atlantic University

Decatur schools officials say an increase of immigrant students has faced district officials with unexpected educational and financial challenges.

The Decatur Daily reported Tuesday that Superintendent Ed Nichols said some of the roughly two dozen Central American children have enrolled in Decatur schools are unable to speak English or have never been enrolled in a formal school.

Druid City Bicycle Club druidcity.org

An Alabama state senator wants to require drivers to stay three feet away from bicyclists after a recent fatal crash.

Republican state Sen. Arthur Orr of Decatur tells the Decatur Daily that he hopes lawmakers will approve a "three-foot bill" in 2015. Orr says he plans to introduce a bill if no one else does.

Cook's Pest Control

One of the nation's largest pest control companies has big plans to expand a science museum near its Alabama headquarters.

Cook's Pest Control announced Monday it will spend $7 million moving the museum the company opened in the 1960s to a downtown building with 35,000 square feet.