Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hueytown Police Chief Chuck Hagler honors 19 officers

Police Chief Chuck Hagler honored 19 officers last week in a brief ceremony for going above and beyond the call of duty in 2008. This was the first time the department has held a ceremony like this. The honorees shift supervisors and Chief Hagler nominated them. Officer Todd Easterwood for the arrest of Clarence Lewis Stone. Easterwood found 65 packages of crack cocaine rocks and $2,000 in Stone's possession when arresting him in June, Hagler said. Dispatchers Joe Epperson and Diane Walton, along with officers Lou Phillips, Chris Taylor, Andy Rodriguez and Cpl. Stephanie Robertson were honored for their efforts in the Carver Avenue hostage standoff. Officers Brandon Jones and Hunter Hodges were honored for chasing a home invasion suspect through several municipalities in bad weather. The suspect had pulled a knife on an elderly couple. The two officers, along with officers from several other jurisdictions, chased the suspect into Midfield where Jones and Hodges took him into custody after a short foot pursuit.
Officers Travis Richards and Jarrod Campbell were also honored for their role in the pursuit and arrest. Officers Lindsey Bumpers and Chad Mitchell were honored for capturing a Hueytown City Jail inmate who had escaped while working as a trusty. The officers found George Brandon Rogers and his wife smoking marijuana at the Days Inn in Bessemer. Both were arrested.
Also receiving honors was Officer Greg Coram for catching a suspect breaking and entering a car. The arrest led to the clearance of several other auto burglaries. Detective Brent Rankin was honored for establishing the department's Honor Guard unit. Corporal Fred Shaw was honored for stopping a rape in progress. Officer Brent Akin stopped a stolen SUV with no tail lights and found a rolling meth lab inside. Three people were arrested and other stolen items were recovered as a result. Officer Alice Thompson also received a plaque for having the eighth highest number of DUI arrest among state municipal officers in 2008 with 76. It was the highest number of DUI arrest in Jefferson County, Hagler said. Detective Brad Richardson was honored for his work in instituting the corporals into the department's rank structure.

Hueytown Chamber of Commerce holds banquet

The Hueytown Chamber of Commerce had its annual banquet last week and honored, among others, the year's top teacher and humanitarian. John Duke, a dentist, was honored as Humanitarian of the Year. Ashley Turner, a second-grade teacher at North Highlands Elementary School, was named the Ellen Northcutt Teacher of the Year. People's Chapel Funeral Home was named Business of the Year. Doug O'Brien, pastor of North Highlands BaptistChurch, was named the Phylis Merritt Citizen of the Year. Brannon Clark was named the Firefighter of the Year while detective Michael Shupe was honored as Police Officer of the Year.
Dispatcher Diane Walton received the honor for Emergency Dispatcher of the Year

Pleasant Grove council meeting changed

The Pleasant Grove council meeting has been changed from May 5 to May 11 due to the Alabama League of Municipalities Convention in Montgomery from May 2-5 in which the council memebers will attend. The council will meet at its regularly scheduled session on May 18.

Bessemer lgrowth calls for more money

The Bessemer Public Library in the last year has grown therefore needing extra staff and funding. Oscar Smith, library director and Bessemer Library Board President LaBrenda Jones asked the City Council for more money. Smith said the library is still running on the same budget as it did when it was smaller. The city budgets $600,000 for the fiscal year for the library and Smit has requested $67,000 more. Smith's request wil be under review in June, said Mayor Ed May.

Art on the Tracks

The Bessemer Hall of History celebrated 40 years of operation on Saturday with music, food and art. Art on the Tracks featured many local artists who paints a variety of scenes. These include landscapes, still-lifes, portraits, marine life and abstracts.Celina Rocha is a visual artist originally from Uruguay, but now lives in Birmingham. She was a teacher for 32 years and painted during the summer, but since her retirement she has dedicated her life to painting. “I like to paint marine life the best, but my favorite painting was a landscape of a ruin with a country side in the background,” she said. Rocha also used therapeutic painting to help children with autism. Her work can be found in the Jennifer Harwell Art Studio in Homewood and Birmingham as well as internationally. Donald Housler, from Birmingham, paints as well, but he said he dislikes painting landscapes. “I stick with portraits,” he said. “My favorite painting is of Einstein and I also like John Lennon’s.” Housler said he takes pictures of the person at different angles and. He then paints a portrait by combining all of the angles and making one picture. “I work with children and they don’t sit still,” he said. Housler makes art cards as well. These are post card sized paper with a portrait of your choice. His work can be found in Herz Gallery and Studio in Northport. Mayor Ed May cut the ribbon to the newly remodeled Bessemer Hall of History. It was temporarily closed for the renovation. This is not the first renovation it has received. Louise Ayer Tommie, Joan Shivers and Joyce Roe Ward and, with help from the Bessemer Junior Service League, started the first renovation nearly 40 years ago. The museum was originally in the basement of the library but these three women wanted to find it its own home. They said it took them 16 years for the museum to be placed in the depot terminal. “There were four phases in renovating the depot,” Tommie said. “The first one was acquiring the building, the second one was the roof and outer area, the third one was the bathrooms, plumbing and electric and finally the finishing touches such as painting.” The women said getting the building took eight years of negotiation. They said it was full of pigeons and the basement had been set fire. The renovation came to a total of $350,000, but grants from the city, county and state helped as well as donations from the Junior Service League and the community. “We are just glad we got to see it restored again before we get any older,” the women said. “We didn’t even grow up here, but we feel like wherever you live you should do as much as you can to help.” The museum houses antique cash registers, typewriters, phones, dresses and has pictures of the town from 70 years ago. It also contains memorabilia from Bessemer High School. The museum was placed in the National Register of Historic Places in West Jefferson County in 1973. The ribbon was not only cut for the depot but another one was also cut for the millionth boxcar from Pullman Standard. The Wrecking Crew, a model railroad club from Birmingham, displayed a 1940s replica of Bessemer. The club obtained old tax records, which had a description of each building and a picture, and used it to help them build the models. They also used the city directory for names and members of the community who remembered the town back then. While seeing the 1950’s model fire trucks, the art seers also heard music from Three on a String, a blue grass band. The band was inducted into the Alabama Blue Grass Hall of Fame on March 21. The Bessemer Hall of History is opened from Tuesday-Sunday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. and closed from 12-1 p.m. for lunch. For more information call 205-426-1633.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Midfield applies for federal grant to hire police officers, Hueytown said NO

The city of Midfield will seek a federal grant to hire additional police officers, but Hueytown officials have decided to pass the money on because of concerns about funding the officers once the grant ends.The Midfield City Council voted unanimously last week for Mayor Gary Richardson to pursue $671,940 in grant money through its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS from the U.S. Department of Justice. If Midfield receives the money, the city will use it to hire five police officers, said Richardson. The grant is for three years, but it stipulates that the city retain the officers an additional year after the grant ends.The city should know no later than Sept. 30 whether or not it will receive the money.Richardson said hiring the additional officers will show businesses and the community the city is striving for good public safety.However, the Hueytown City Council decided not to pursue the funds with a 3-2 vote under the same program.Hueytown would have used almost $500,000 in grant money to hire three additional officers and the city would have been required to keep the officers an additional three years at its own expense, said Police Chief Chuck Hagler.Hueytown council members expressed concern about projecting the city's finances four years into the future, especially with the country in the midst of an economic downtown. They also said they were concerned retaining the officers as required could potentially lead to layoffs in other departments if the economy does not improve.The council had split 2-2 in a previous vote on the issue.
Hagler said the department could have saved money by cutting overtime. Richardson said he was confident Midfield would be in a position financially to support the additional officers in the future. The city recently reached an agreement with Adamson Ford to lease space at the former Bill Byrd Kia site on the Bessemer Superhighway for two years with the option of extending the lease to five years.

Fairfield school receives inauguration flag

U.S. Rep. Artur Davis visited Fairfield High Preparatory School last week to present a flag that flew in Washington on Jan. 20, the inauguration day for President Barack Obama. The congressman, who represents Alabama's 7th District, gave the flag to school officials during a student assembly.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Fairfield woman sues Hueytown

The Birmingham News

A Fairfield woman sued the city of Hueytown claiming that Brooklane Community Center and Bud Newell Memorial Park do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
D'Wanna Williams filed the suit in U.S. District Court in March. Williams' attorney, Edward Zwilling, said his client is a paraplegic who shops in Hueytown for her medical supplies and has often stopped by the park with family. The facilities at the park are not accessible to Williams, who has lost both legs and requires a wheelchair for mobility, the lawsuit contends.
Williams just wants access, not any damages. City attorney Jon Terry said the city is still reviewing the lawsuit's claims. He said new facilities in Hueytown, such as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Center, are compliant. Terry said the city has strived to make sure its facilities are compliant. Zwilling has filed similar lawsuits alleging violations of the ADA against Bessemer, Graysville and Birmingham. Bessemer settled its lawsuit. The suit against Graysville is pending, while Zwilling said he is working with Birmingham officials. Zwilling said the lawsuits are done to address the problems, not punish the cities.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Art on the Tracks

The second annual Art on the Tracks is Saturday, April 25 from 9:30-4:00 p.m. There will be music, food and of course, art! Three on a String will play as well as Kasey Brown. A grad re-opening of the Bessemer Hall of History Museum will also take place. Come join in on the fun!!

Help the BPD!!

The Bessemer Police Department is looking for two men who are believed to be involved in an April 13 home invasion and robbery of an 42-year-old man. Police said the two abducted a man from his home at 19th Street and Berkley Avenue and drove him around for several hours and then used his credit card at an ATM before the man escaped at a service station.Police said on the day following the incident, they recovered the man's stolen vehicle, which had been burned so bad they could not recognize it. Bessemer police are asking anyone with information on the suspects call the department's tip line at 428-3541.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Bessemer woman dies after apartment fire

Angelica Mullins, 37, died Saturday at 11:40 a.m. at UAB hospital. She had suffered third degree burns on multiple areas of her body. She fought for two months. The fire started in her apartment 314 19th street south at Clarendon Manor on Feb. 8 said Deborah Chance, resident manager. Mullins couldn't escape the fire through her window. Two residents knocked in her door and she ran through the flames. Three other apartments were damaged by the fire and three units were damaged by water.

Fairfield City Cuncil Moves to Resolve Civic Center Authority

The Birmingham News

The Fairfield City Council voted Monday to have the city attorney request that the state Legislature move on resolving the city's Civic Center Authority. The 3-2 vote follows a 2007 resolution in which the council voted in favor of dissolving the authority, which oversees the Fairfield Civic Center. Legislative action is required to dissolve the authority.
Councilman Rev. F.D. Scott said the city is paying the cost of lawsuits filed against the Civic Center but has no control over the Civic Center Authority, of which he is a former member.
Joining Scott in voting "yes" were Vincent Smith and Ves Marable. Voting against the move were Council President Eldridge O. Turner and Councilman Jerry Yarbrough, both current members of the authority. Councilman Ronald Strothers abstained. The council voted April 6 to have the authority repay a $24,758 settlement against the city. Although he had voted for dissolution while a member of the council, Mayor Kenneth Coachman, now an authority member, said he opposed the council's action. Scott said other lawsuits are pending against the Civic Center.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Fairfield Works gets new President at Steelworkers Local

Robert Irwin, a third-generation steelworker, was elected to a three-year term as head of Local 2122. It has about 500 members at U.S. Steel's 1,600-worker plant in Fairfield.Irwin said about 350 Fairfield Works Steelworkers are laid off in any given week, because of the poor economy which is making a less of a demand for steel.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Homeless musicians find their way back home

Musicians who favor the songs and instruments of country music have been meeting regularly in a room provided by Food World in Bessemer for the past 10 years. As of last week, they began their morning jam sessions in a new location because of the supermarket's closing.Thanks to the generosity ofAnthony Underwood, the ownerof West Lake Mall, they have found a new home and didn't have to travel very far to move in.Mac Mitchell, site manager of the 90,000 square foot indoor flea market, welcomed the musicians with the hope that shoppers and vendors alike will enjoy the familiar sounds of guitars, fiddles, banjos, and harmonicas when West Lake Mall opens on April 17. SteveBaggett,now retired from theBirmingham News ,remembers the origins of this gathering of musicians. It was in John Knipher's Barber Shop in the early 60's. John would sometimes stop in the middle of middle of a haircut and pick up his guitar if certain friends happened by. All those old friends wish him well as able to attend. Baggett credits Tater Wallace, 92 and still active, with teaching him his "licks".Tater performed professionally with his own country band for 20 years. His wife Marjorie keeps a sharp eye on him and comes with him to the sessions.Newcomers like CharlesByars (88), Junior Franklin (80),Howard Ryan (78), Bill Greg(77), Thermon Jones (62) andJoe Kizziah (31) have only been showing up for about 10 years.Walt Johnson, 84, has memories of the group going back 40 years. He entered the Navy at 17 and served four years in North Africa, Sicily, and the South Pacific during WW II. Not manyof those vets are still kickin'.Walt definitely is.When this new space became available, Baggett expressed his relief. "Comin' together like this to play their instruments with old friends or just sit and listen is keepin' some of these guys alive." To find out just how alive,you'll have to hear the mall musicians for yourself. And if you have a favorite song or a guitar, come and join in.The mall musicians gather every Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday morning from 8-10:30 am. Who knows?You might even find another"bargain" when the West Lake Mall Flea Market opens but you'll be hard pressed to beat this one.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fairfield Wants Civic Center to Pay Lawsuit Settlement

The Fairfield City Council wants the city's Civic Center Authority to repay the cost of a lawsuit settlement. The city settled a lawsuit with Evans Meats, Inc. of Birmingham in December for $24,758, said Mayor Kenneth Coachman. The city and former clerk Ryan Rancher were named as defendants in the lawsuit, which was filed in Jefferson County District Court in July 2008.
The lawsuit claimed a breach of contract. Evans Meats claimed the city, under Rancher, guaranteed payment for goods and meat products. However, the council voted 4-2 to have the Civic Center Authority repay settlement money, which council members said is coming from the city's general fund.


A man and a woman suspected in Monday's robbery of the RBC bank are in custody, authorities said today. Andre Wallace, 32, and Jawana Jackson, 23, were arrested by Birmingham police Tuesday evening, said FBI spokesman Paul Daymond. They are also being held in the Bessemer City Jail on state charges for the unrelated robbery of Bob's Storage in March, Daymond said. They haven't been formally charged in Monday's holdup. A man armed with a handgun and wearing sunglasses and a wig robbed the bank just before noon, leaving with an undisclosed amount of money. Daymond said he would release more information as it becomes available.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Lakendall Sims Gets Life Sentence

A Bessemer jury in January convicted Sims of killing Catherine Williams, 19, in May 2007 and recommended the 20-year-old spend the rest of his life in prison. Circuit Judge Mac Parsons on Friday decided to follow the jury's recommendation and sentenced Sims to two terms of life in prison to be served consecutively and will not be eligible for parole. According to testimony, Sims and three other men stole $11 from Williams before they locked her in the trunk of her car and drove her to an abandoned storage facility. The men made her strip, and then Sims sexually assaulted her. She was then shot in the head and face. Assistant District Attorney LeAnna Huddleston had urged Parsons to override the jury's recommendation and sentence Sims to death, arguing that the crime was "heinous, atrocious and cruel" and that Sims had not shown remorse for Williams' death. Sims' attorney Jonathan Tindle argued that without Sims' cooperation, police may have never found Williams' body. Parsons twice asked Sims if he had anything to say before sentencing. The first time he declined. The second time he shook his head and said, "All I can say is, I didn't do it." Three other men - Tarquinne McCain, Travis Burns and James Pratt - have entered guilty pleas in Williams' death. Police said the same four men, who became known as the "Lipscomb Four," also are responsible for robbing and killing 21-year-old Gabriel Alaniz the night before Williams' death and were behind a home invasion and beating of an elderly couple the same month. Sims is scheduled to stand trial for Alaniz's death June 8. Sims' attorney, David Hobdy, said his client maintains he did not fire the shots that killed either victims. Sims already is serving a 20-year sentence at Donaldson Correctional Facility for second-degree rape. Last September, Sims escaped from the Bessemer courthouse by overpowering a bailiff. He was on the run for more than a day before being caught by Birmingham police.

UAB Medical West suspends contributions and reduces sick leave for employees

Medical West is suspending contributions to employees' retirement plans and reducing sick leave time to save money. The hospital also is hiring outside consultants to improve flagging finances, employees were told in a letter mailed Thursday. Rising numbers of uninsured patients and patients delaying care because of their tight budgets have put a strain on hospitals nationwide, Tim Thornton, chief executive officer of the hospital said he could not provide the financial results for 2008 because the audit isn't completed, but the year will likely end with bigger losses than the $2.2 million lost on operations in 2007. Medical West laid off 17 workers last summer and closed 35 open positions. Since then, Physicians Medical Center Carraway has closed and many other Birmingham-area hospitals have laid off employees. Medical West's most recent actions will take effect May 1. The hospital employs 1,350 full- and part-time workers. The hospital will suspend its contributions to employees' retirement plans through the remainder of this year. Employees may continue to contribute. Also, the number of sick days a worker may accrue in a given year is being capped at 10 days, down from 12. Even so, workers may still take however many sick days they have banked, Thornton said.

Donaldson Prison Under Inspection

A civil rights group has asked a federal magistrate to allow an expert to do a one-day inspection of a maximum security prison in Bessemer. Capt. Lloyd Wallace of the Limestone County Correctional Facility in Capshaw, referenced overcrowding at the Limestone prison in his statement to the court. Sarah Geraghty, an attorney for the Atlanta-based Southern Center for Human Rights, said Wednesday conditions at the Donaldson Correctional Facility in Bessemer have continued to deteriorate since a lawsuit was filed Feb. 26 against the state. U.S. Magistrate Judge Wallace Capel Jr. of Montgomery has given the state Department of Corrections until April 16 to respond to the request. The statement by Wallace, president of the 500-member Alabama Correctional Organization, said according to the Department of Corrections' February 2009 report, state prisons are holding "nearly double the number of people they were built to hold." "Donaldson has an occupancy rate of 176.5 percent," said Wallace, who referred to the Bessemer prison as a "ticking time bomb." "Limestone has an occupancy rate of 166.7 percent. In addition, more than 1,400 people who have been sentenced and are currently in county jails are awaiting transfer to the state prison system." The center has asked Capel for permission to have Steve J. Martin, an Austin, Texas, attorney and corrections consultant, to inspect the prison one business day the week of April 20 or May 11. Prison Commissioner Richard Allen said Wednesday he did not believe the inspection is warranted. "We don't think there's any emergency that requires any expedited procedure," he said. "Donaldson, like all (prisons) are crowded, we are short on personnel, but it's not due to deliberate indifference. We've got people working hard but resources only go so far." Geraghty said her group wants an expedited order to inspect Donaldson because inmates and corrections officers are at a growing risk. Since the complaint was filed, the motion said, violence has escalated, with two stabbings in March, an assault on another inmate the same month, a suicide in February and a serious assault on an inmate in January. In addition, the motion said the Department of Corrections is in the process of "making structural changes to the prison, including the removal of three-man cells."
However, Allen said he had already ordered those changes at Donaldson before the complaint was filed in February.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Graduation among black students at Miles are good

The Birmingham News

Officials at Miles College have disputed an Associated Press report in Sunday's Birmingham News about the graduation rate of black students, and they are supported by an independent association of private colleges.
The six-year graduation rate for first-time, full-time students who enrolled at the Fairfield college in 2001 was 52 percent, said Paul Hankins, president of the Alabama Association of Independent Colleges and Universities. The AP report, which said the graduation rate was 11 percent, relied on erroneous data in a U.S. Department of Education database, Miles officials said. The AP report found that many historically black colleges graduate black students at a rate lower than colleges in general.
Previous published reports and independent analyses consistently have placed Miles' graduation rate at more than 50 percent. Ricky Lee, Miles' director of college relations, said the methodology behind some analyses varies widely. Some include part-time and non-traditional students, and others do not, for example.
The most recent report by The Education Trust, a nonprofit, placed Miles' 2006 rate at 50 percent, highest among historically black colleges in Alabama and third-highest among all schools in the state for black students.
In 2007, Miles remained among the highest-ranked for percentage of first-time, full-time students graduating within six years, Hankins said.
"Miles is probably the best," he said.

Fairfield City Council rejects Coachman's veto, tables another

The Fairfield City Council overruled one mayoral veto and tabled another one for future discussion in back-to-back called meetings on Monday night.The council rejected a veto by Mayor Kenneth Coachman on a financial ordinance approved a few weeks ago. The ordinance prohibited the paying of any city bills before they are reviewed and approved by the council. A letter from Tracy Lane Roberts, assistant general counsel with the Alabama League of Municipalities, read in part: "The municipal budget is not an ordinance of permanent operation, and thus is not subject to the mayor's veto." The council approved on a 4-3 vote the acceptance of Roberts' letter, leaving the ordinance intact. Scott, Smith, Ves Marable and William Murray voted yes and voting no was Jerry Yarbrough, Ronald Strothers and Council President Eldridge Turner. The second called meeting, moments later, was over the salary being paid to Coachman's executive assistant, Lucy Nash. A few weeks ago the council set her salary and that of the City Council administrator at $34,000. Nash had been hired at a salary of about $46,000, the same amount her predecessor had received. Coachman vetoed the reduction.
Marable argued that the previous executive assistant had earned that salary over 17 years of service to the city. At this point, Tyrone Townsend, an attorney for Nash, attempted to speak, but was told that he could not speak because he was not on the agenda. Townsend laid a document on the podium, saying it was a copy of a lawsuit he has filed in federal court on behalf of his client. Council members called a closed session and left the room for about 20 minutes. When they returned, there was a unanimous vote to table the salary issue.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Man flees police leaving infant in car

A man fleeing from Jefferson County sheriff's deputies today left his infant daughter in the car as he tried to make a getaway on foot. Deputies pulled over Kenneth Morrow, 21, about 2:30 p.m. on Ninth Avenue in Bessemer. He fled, leaving the little girl behind, said sheriff's spokesman Lt. Randy Christian. He was captured moments later and taken into custody. Police later learned that Morrow ran because he had an outstanding warrant for unlawful breaking and entering a vehicle. Morrow also faces several traffic offenses and a child endangerment charge, Christian said. Christian said they tried to give the baby o the mother but learned that the infant's 21-year-old mother was wanted on outstanding warrants for probation violation on a theft charge.
The mother was taken into custody and is being held without bond. The infant was taken into custody by the Department of Human Resources

Man indicted on quadruple killings in Hueytown

Scott Lamar Abbott has been indicted on the March 7 killings in Hueytown, according to the Bessemer District Attorney's office. Chief Assistant District Attorney Bill Veitch said today that a grand jury indicted 24-year-old Abbott on five counts of capital murder in the deaths of William Chad Gilbert, 31; Jeri Lynn Cole, 27; Nika Sandlin, 24; and Joshua Gilleo, 26.
Abbott faces one count of capital murder for killing more than one person and another four counts for killing the four victims during the commission of a burglary. Abbott is next expected in court for an arraignment. A date for his arraignment has not been set.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Midfield Man Charged with Murder will Have Hearing April 7

A preliminary hearing is set for April 7 for the 29-year-old Midfield man who is accused of taking police on a chase that ended in a crash that killed an 86-year-old grandmother.
Marvin Leonard Brown was charged with murder, first degree assault, obstructing justice and receiving stolen property. He is in the Jefferson County Jail in Bessemer on bonds totaling to $115,000.
Police said Brown led Midfield police on a chase in a stolen car on March 4. After police lost sight of Brown and called off the chase, he crashed the car into a truck at 48th Street and Huntsville Avenue, killing Willie Lee Williams, 86. William's grandson, Christopher Williams was injured in the crash. Brown's hearing will be in the Jefferson County District Court in Bessemer.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lambda Zeta Zeta Helps the Needy in 2008

The year 2008 may have been the start of an economic downturn,but the women of the
Bessemer chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. still found time to have fun and help the
needy. Zeta Phi Beta, Inc. holds chapters in four regions and has 22 chapters total in Alabama.
Calandra McDonald is the area coordinator of region three. McDonald is a liaison for each
of the cities that are in the region, which includes Bessemer, Birmingham, Tuscaloosa, Gadsden, Talladega and Aliceville. Lambda Zeta Zeta is a community- based sorority. The women call their motto Z-Hope, which is an acronym for Zeta’s Helping Other People Excel. Most members join one of the chapters while in college. Others join the Graduate Chapter, which is when a person joins the sorority after they graduate. Lambda Zeta Zeta held a 70’s disco night party and scholarship fundraiser on Nov. 1, 2008 at the Bessemer City Auditorium. They invited D.J. Mighty Flam to get the party started. Tickets were sold to help pay for food baskets for various families. Cash prizes, novelties and gift cards were given to the ones dressed in the best 70’s costume. Some members donated money to the scholarship fund. Nov. 15, 2008, Lambda Zeta
Zeta sponsored Prematurity Awareness weekend by holding a seminar at the Greater St. Paul
CME Church in Bessemer. This served as the sorority’s effort to support the March of Dimes Prematurity Campaign. The campaign goals are to increase public awareness of the problem of prematurity and to decrease the incidence of premature birth. Pamphlets were handed out to
the ones in attendance and a sorority sister spoke on the causes and ways to decrease premature
birth. On Dec. 13, 2008, Lambda Zeta Zeta participated in the annual Bessemer Christmas
parade. They drove a car and passed out candy to the children. The sorority also gave
Christmas gifts of clothing and toys to a family in the Bessemer area. The chapter also gave gifts to two angels from the Angel Tree in Bessemer’s Chief of Police Nathaniel Rutledge’s office. The women of Lambda Zeta Zeta participated in a can food drive also. The can foods were donated to food banks to help those in need. The sorority held founder’s day, which celebrates the founding
of the sorority, on Jan. 11, 2009, at Pleasant Hill Missionary Baptist Church in West Highland.
The Rev. L.G. Young gave the women a message to start their year off. One member, Mary Dean Thomas, is the director of Project Chance, a GED dropout pilot program that was founded
by Sen. E.B. McClain and former representative Lawrence McAdory in 1996. They also collaborated with Dr. Ethel Hall, Assistant Superintendent of Alabama Department of Education and Dr. Yvette Richardson, former superintendent of the Fairfield Board
of Education. This project gives young people a second chance at success to students who have been expelled, suspended or quit school. It targets inner-city students in Bessemer and Fairfield.
In addition to, the activities above, Lambda Zeta Zeta women also give scholarships to
high school seniors. The student can get the application and information packet from one of the 19 members. The scholarship will pay for student’s books or part of their tuition. The deadline is April 3. Zeta will be participating in the March of Dimes on May 16, 2009, at Debardeleben Park in Bessemer. Zeta holds monthly meetings in the library every second Saturday at noon. For more information on the sorority or scholarship call President Glenda McCarroll at 205-925-1567.

Flying the Friendly Skies

J e s s l y n Arnold, left, and Edna MannAronson had many fond memories toshare whenmembers of the Retired United Airlines Employees Association gathered at theBright Star for lunch on Feb. 9. Herb Wilbanks, president of the newly formed Birmingham chapter, did too. In their combined decades of service, they had crossed paths with many famous people and, just as important, had strong ties to Bessemer. Herb was born in Bessemer in 1934, went to Arlington Grammar School and then to Bessemer High School until 1950 when his family moved to Birmingham. Jesslyn Arnold was born and raised in Bessemer also. She graduated from Bessemer High in 1969 and began her career with United Airlines in Chicago at the tender
age of 18. In her first interview, her future boss was worried that she was a little too young and
awfully far from home. “Don’t you think you’ll get homesick?” heasked. If she did, she kept it a secret for thenext 36 years when she took early retirementat 55 and came back to Bessemer in 2006. “I first thought I’d retire in Florida,” shesaid. “But I wasn’t really happy there. I have
cousins, aunts, uncles, friends here. So I came back home, and I have no regrets. I
love it here.” So does Edna Mann Aronson. She returned to Bessemer when she retired in
2000. “My family has lived here all their lives. I still have two brothers and a sister here.”

Accused Killer Remains in Jail

The man accused of killing four people will remain in the Jefferson County Jail instead of being transferred to Taylor Hardin Medical Facility said Judge Fancher on Monday.

Read the rest of the story next week in The Western Star.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Fairfield Woman Injured By Gunshots

A 37-year-old Fairfield woman was shot in her home when she answered a knock at her door, police said. 
At least 20 rounds were shot into Lawanda Gregory Hicks' house on 422 53rd street at 5 a.m. A bullet grazed her chest and she was taken to the hospital for a wound to her hand. She was released from the hospital today.
Police said the drive-by may be caused by an argument with one of her teenage sons and the suspect, who is unknown. Four children and one woman was asleep at the time of the incident.
Charles Gregory, another one of Hicks' sons, is in the Jefferson County Jail on burglary charges.
In the course of interviewing juveniles in the investigation, police have made a drug arrest, a car theft arrest, and cleared up at least 10 car burglaries, police said.

Emergency Hearing for Quadruple Murder Suspect

An emergency hearing has been set for March 23 regarding the mental state of Scott Lamar Abbott who is accused of killing four people inside a Hueytown home earlier this month.

Abbott will be back in District Court Judge Eric Fancher's courtroom in the Bessemer Division for a competency hearing.

Multiple Car Wreck Kills One

Helen Mooney, 89, was killed in a multiple car accident at the intersection of 8th and 9th street on March 19. Jefferson County Coroner Pat Curry said she died on the scene at 2:20 p.m.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bessemer Plans to Open New Landfill, Old One Closes

The Birmingham News
Anita Debro

Bessemer officials have resumed talks to open a new landfill for yard and construction waste.

Talk of closing the city's trash depository, Concord Landfill, and open a new one in the Raimund community began nearly two years ago as Concord Landfill neared its capacity.

Concord Landfill is now at capacity, said Bessemer public works Director James Eades.

"We need to do this as quick as we can," Eades said of the relocation.

Eades told the City Council last week that the city will be able to deposit trash at Concord Landfill for only another two months. The landfill holds only trash - tree and limb brush, construction debris and other nonhazardous debris. It is not for household garbage.

Bessemer officials plan to relocate trash to a 20-acre site off Raimund Muscoda Road. The land is already permitted for a landfill.

City Engineer Ron Gilbert said in order for the new landfill to open, the city must construct a new road to the site. Eades said the city will also need to purchase new equipment and possibly hire skilled laborers to work at the landfill.

Eades and Gilbert estimated it will cost about $793,000 to open the landfill. The men said the city should get about 20 years of use out of the new landfill.

City Council members suggested last week informing the residents in the area of the city's plans to relocate the landfill.

Officials said a town hall meeting to discuss the relocation will be planned for residents living near the site.

Monday, March 16, 2009

UPDATE: Headstone

House of Hope Here and Abroad

On Thursday, the Bessemer Rotary Club had their weekly gathering for lunch with guest speaker Rebecca Graham at the YMCA. Graham founded the House of Hope, which houses orphaned children in Campulung-Muscel, Romania. She acknowledged the generous support that her orphanage had received a $25,000 grant from Rotary International. It helped build the Mission Center and it was put into the water filteration and sewer project.

Literacy Program Gives Kids an Even Start

Even Start, part of the Family Literacy Initiative, is a program for disadvantaged children who are toddlers until they are 4 years old. It is a federally funded program in Bessemer that provides special preparation to children from low-income, semi-literate families. Funding has been gradually cut, said Nancy Trucks, site coordinator of project Even Start. "Cut funding and we might be cutting our own throats," she said. The Bessemer facility can only accommodate 26 children. Applications for the fall will be accepted starting March 23.

Census Bureau opened Jefferson County office for 2010 census

The U.S. Census Bureau opened its Jefferson County office for the 2010 census, and workers will verify addresses next week in advance of the population count.

Census counts are taken every 10 years. Results are used in different ways which includes determining the number of members of Congress each state receives, and how federal dollars are given out to local governments.

Residents won't receive census forms until March 2010.

Another 1,200 to 1,500 part-time workers will conduct field operations, he said. They will be among the ones who, beginning next month, handle the task of matching up addresses in north Alabama with updated lists that have been received by the census bureau.

Information about the temporary census jobs can be found at

The Census Bureau is expected to hire more than a million people nationwide.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Alabama Adeventure Gets a Makeover

The Birmingham News

E.J. Randolph isn't your typical thrill-seeking amusement park general manager - he doesn't even like to ride roller coasters.
"I'm scared of heights," he admits.
"You won't see me getting on the Rampage," Randolph added, referring to the wooden roller coaster that's the biggest attraction at Alabama Adventure's Magic City USA theme park, once known as VisionLand.
The Minnesota native, who has worked at amusement parks for the past 25 years, took over at Alabama Adventure in Bessemer last June, shortly after the park was acquired by Adrenaline Family Entertainment of Oklahoma. He is now preparing for his first full season in charge of the Bessemer park.
Alabama Adventure kicks off its 2009 season weekends-only on April 18 before going to a daily schedule beginning Memorial Day weekend. Randolph believes Alabama Adventure can capitalize this summer on cash-strapped families opting to stay closer to home instead of visiting higher-priced parks in Atlanta or Florida.
"We feel really excited about this year," he said. "No matter how the economy gets, theme parks have become a way of life."
E.J. Randolph isn't your typical thrill-seeking amusement park general manager - he doesn't even like to ride roller coasters.Adrenaline Entertainment is counting on Splash Beach, which has become the most popular part of the park in recent years, Randolph said. The company is spending $1.1 million to build Upsurge, a 216-foot long waterslide that takes riders on a winding 47-foot drop into a 25,000-gallon pool.
"We felt it was not economical right now to invest $12 million to $14 million in a new steel roller coaster, but we can get a return on the water slide," Randolph said. "We think it will be a very popular ride."
Randolph got his first exposure at an amusement park as a 17-year-old in Arlington, Texas, when he got a summer job working at Six Flags Over Texas. He never imagined a career in the industry, saying he envisioned it as simply a way to earn some extra money.
"I got hooked on it. Once you get amusement parks in your blood, it's kind of hard to let go," Randolph said.
Working at the park helped pay his college tuition at the University of Texas. After getting a finance degree, he began working at the Six Flags park full time. A few years later, Randolph transferred to a Six Flags park in New Jersey, where he met his wife, Debi. He later moved into a management position at a suburban Washington, D.C. park eventually bought by Six Flags.
Moving to Alabama Adventure, a much smaller park, gives him a new opportunity.
"It was my first chance to run the entire operations of a park and put my own stamp on things," Randolph said. "Even though I'm not working for a big chain, it's exciting to be a part of something like this. Our owners are really excited about the park and its future."
One change initiated by Randolph: Instead of having to buy separate tickets for Splash Beach Water Park and Magic City USA or combo tickets, patrons will get into both parks for one price.
Tickets are now $34.99 for adults and $24.99 for kids under 48 inches tall and seniors 62 and older. Season tickets are $59.99 and include entry to both parks and special events such as the summer concert series.
"I felt why should people have to choose which parks to go to," Randolph said. "Both parks play well off of each other. People can go to the water park during the hot part of the day, then go have fun on the rides at the theme park."
Randolph also diversified Alabama Adventure's summer concert series, which he says was in the past tilted "too heavily to Disney Channel stars." Raven is back for the third consecutive year, but no other Disney stars are on the series, which kicks off June 5.
Randolph has booked acts including Grammy nominated R&B star Jazmine Sullivan, classic rock band Three Dog Night, Southern rockers 38 Special, Christian headliner Mercy Me and country singers Julianne Hough and Jimmy Wayne.
Randolph also has added other entertainment to draw people to the park, such as a team of acrobats, Cirque Magnifico, making a week-long stop at Alabama Adventure June 9-14; a July 11 musical event featuring local barbecue restaurants; and a Latin cultural festival on June 21. The park will host gospel concerts on Sundays in August and September, and Oktoberfest in September.
"My goal is to create family activities appealing to everyone," Randolph said

Adrenaline Entertainment hopes adding the $1.1 million Upsurge,
a 216-foot long waterslide that takes riders on a winding 47-foot drop
into a 25,000-gallon pool, will draw even more visitors to Splash Beach
at Alabama Adventure this year.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Midfield Man Charged with Murder

The Birmingham News

A man who fled police in Midfield and later crashed a stolen car into a pickup truck in Brighton, killing a grandmother, has been charged with murder, authorities said Wednesday. Marvin Leonard Brown, 29 of Bessemer, remained in the Jefferson County Jail Wednesday night.
Authorities said Brown led Midfield police on a chase on the afternoon of March 4. Moments after police lost sight of Brown and called off the chase, he crashed the car into a truck at 48th Street and Huntsville Avenue, killing Willie Lee Williams, 86. Brown and Williams' grandson were also injured in the crash.
Brown, who had several outstanding warrants when he fled police, is charged with murder in Williams' death and first-degree assault in her grandson's injury. Bonds on the two charges totaled $90,000

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Quadruple Murder in Hueytown Sends Shock Wave

Four people were killed in Hueytown early Saturday morning. Scott Lamar Abbott, 24, stabbed each victim multiple times. The police identified the victims as William Chad Gilbert, 31, Jeri Lynn Cole, 27, Nika Sandlin, 24, all from Hueytown and Joshua Gilleo,26, from Pelham. Police said they believed Abbott was an ex-boyfriend of one of the victims and lived at the home where the murders took place. Abbott went to court Monday for his arraignment where there is a substantial amount of evidence against him. His hearing is set for Thursday, April 2.

McAdory Fire District Cleans Up

Members of the McAdory Area Fire District picked up litter for 1/2 mile on March 7. They picked up trash from the McAdory fire station 2 along Eastern Valley Road. They hope that their
voluntary action will sparkk other groups to participate.

Bessemer Fire Department Welcomes Two New Engines

Fire Chief Paul Syx sent bids out for two bew firetrucks in 2008. The bids went through and now stations 3 and 4 have two new firetrucks. The most important feature Syx wanted was the safety for his crew. Styx became a personal tour guide of each engine. He showed the fireman the features and ho to use each. Syx said anyone can drop in to see the new trucks and take a tur of the building.

U.S. Pipe Moves Screening Location

The Bessemer plant manager at U.S. Pipe, Tom Nicholson, informed Scott and Becki Parsons as well as other residents at Bessemer Gardens of that the reclamation operation would be moved to another location. In the past two years dust collected in yards on on vehicles along with sleep-disturbing noises.

Mayor May weighs in on City Budget

Mayor Ed May talked about three influences for the preparation of the budget. He said expected reveues from all sources, known expenses required to run the city and general economic conditions. May also said not to worry about the trying times in Bessemer because we have not been hit as hard as other cities due primarily to the Tannehill Promenade. May also said his office is always open for ideas on how to improve Bessemer.

Bessemer City Budget Approved

On March 3, the City Council approved the budget after four months of being submitted. Some of the council members felt that the mayor's revenue forecast was unrealistic said councilman Jimmy Stevens. Ninety percent of the budget was approved and will be reviewed again on June 15.

Bessemer Red Cross

The Bessemer Red Cross will host a volunteer fair on March 14 a 1720 2nd avenue North in Bessemer. The event will begin at 10 a.m. and end at 2 p.m.

Bessemer Library Has it All

The Bessemer Library opened six months ago and showcased its many different areas. This includes an auditorium, conference room, children's department and computer lab. Check it out. They are opened 9-8 on Mondays, 9-6 on Tuesday-Thursday, 9-5 on Friday and 10-4 on Saturday. they are closed on Sundays.

And the Award Goes To...

Anthony Underwood Automotive was awarded the Quality Dealership Award from Auto Services Company, Inc. This honor is given to dealers that do an outstanding job of providing high quality and mechanically sound vehicles to their customers.

Bessemer Home Repairs

Bessemer is one of five cities and two counties in Alabama that receives Community Development Block Grant funding each year for home repairs for qualified homeowners. The program alos provides assistance to the elderly and disabled thourgh deferred loans and also for medical related and emergency related home repairs in the form of grants. Loans are up to $35,000 for the qualified homeowners with an interest rate of 3%. For the disabled there is an emergency grant program and improvements can reach $5,000 and does not have to be repaid.

The Foundry Gets Socked

The Bessemer Center for Technology's Future Business Leaders of America completed its first sock drive. The socks colleceted were donated to the Foundry Rescue and Recovery Center on Feb. 12. The socks were given to help the homeless and other needy citizens.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Five Bessemer Schools Get Money for Achievement

Five Bessemer City schools that performed well on accountability assesment last year will receive $52,500 in monetary awards from the state.

The Alabama Department of Education notified interim Superintendent Michale Foster last week about the reward the schools would be receiving. The state rewards schools in four categories: Advancing the Challenge, Meeting the Challenge, Exceeding the Challenge and Addressing the Challenge.

Abrams, Greenwood, Hard, Davis and Jonesboro elementary will share the reward. The former four, who will each receive $5,900, were recognized for Meeting the Challenge because they met state goals for two years consecutively.

Jonesboro was awarded for Metting, Exceeding and Advancing the Challenge and they will receive $28,900. Foster said each school will decide how to spend its money.

Two Hueytown Men Killed in Wreck

The Birmingham News

Two men were killed in a single car wreck in Hueytown this morning, according to the Jefferson County Coroner's Office.
Authorties think the victims are a 38-year-old and a 36-year-old, but the men have not been positively identified, Chief Deputy Coroner Pat Curry said.
The car the men were driving ran off the road in the 3500 block of 15th Street Road at about 2:45 a.m., Curry said.
Hueytown Police Lt. Jim Rice said the wreck remains under investigation.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blasting in Lipscomb Causing Many Problems For Residents

LaFarge Aggregates Southeast, Inc. was one of the many blasting companies that had a civil suit filed against them on Dec. 23, 2008. LaFarge has caused health problems among the residents that live in Limpscomb. These include: asthma, bronchitis, sinusitis, pulmonary problems, upper respiratory conditions and COPD. Health is not the only issue that is a problem for these residents. Dust has collected in their yards which prevents residents from sitting on their porches or children playing outside. LaFarge was contacted but did not want to comment.

Missing Headstone Found in Brighton

A headstone was found in a ditch near the Woodward Country Club with the name Herman A. Adams 1905-1946. Cemetaries in Brighton were called as well as Cedar Hill but no one claims it. If you have any information on where the headstone is suppose to be call 424-7827 or email

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

US Pipe Pollutes Bessemer Gardens

Residents in Bessemer Gardens have called many news outlets to get help in stopping the pollution that is coming from US Pipe. Becki Parsons says dust has covered her house, yard and cars with a thick, gray dust. A representative from the Jefferson County Health Department said it is the heaviest of particles that he had observed in nine previous visits to her home in the past 22 months. The health department has an investigation underway to see what parts of the plant the pollution is coming from and how to correct the problem. Plant manager, Tom Nicholson, said he apologized for the pollution and was going to make sure it didn't happen again.

Danny Dean New Publisher-Editor at the Western Star

Danny Dean has worked at 53 newspapers around the U.S. He has worked in every state besides Alaska. Dean has spent 20 years with the Walls Newspaper group where he started as a pressman.
He then succeeded to a retail sales, advertising director and finally as a publisher. He welcomes phone calls and even walk-ins from anybody.

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