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Athens News Courier: Saturday, January 22, 2005 - Page 1

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   Athens News Courier (Newspaper) - January 22, 2005, Athens, Alabama                                 < Rematch  Tanner and Ardmore meet again Friday night  ews-Courier  Satiìri)a\, Janiiahv 22, 2005  *  e n    scou r iene« iii  }  i^iUNíTY OF Tradition and Fi it rf  Working women  Read about the careers of local women, including social workers, firefighters and more in a special section...  Coming Sunday  M№CfF  Hey, Sound Off:  Hats off to Rheta Grimsley .lohnson for her article in Thursday’s paper regarding the selfish manner in which folks solve problems — such as dumping their trash on Rheta’s property...and on yours! So many people do what's easy for them with no regard for how their actions affect others. 1 am a part of the Keep Athens-Limestone Beautiful Board and have opportunities to educate students about how harmful litter is to a community, our wildlife, and the environment. So many students seem to understand but tell me their parents litter and wouldn’t listen to them if they tried to educate them. How sad.  When are those of us who are responsible citizens going to stand up and say we won’t stand for it anymore? You can join Litter Watch by calling 233-8728. Be a part of the solution.  More Sound Off Sunday  Get the news with your morning coffee  Subscribe to The Neu'S-Courier ^  232-2720  Index     Classified ..    5-7A      Comics —    4A      Ledger —    2A      Movie Listing    ЗА      Weather ...    2A      Obituaries ..    2A          Ray Ballew      Sports —    1-8B     Daily Bible Moment  ^// of you he of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as hi'others, he tenderhearted, he courteous.  1 Peter 3:8  о  ’fWt Cm*  О  322 Hwv.31 N • .Athens 256-232-10Я Obit line 256-771-09.34  Water board defends position  Chairman says authority not funded by tax dollars  Bv .Melame Walker  melanie(cine\\'s<\)uricr.com “1 have been a good steward for the community." Bobby Gilbert said Friday during a press conference in the board room of the water authority's offices.  The press conference offered an opportunity for Gilbert, Limestone County Water and Sewer Authority Board chairman, and board member Alton Robison to answer questions about the recent controversy over the Christmas bonuses paid to retiring manager Bobby Chandler and the 45 employees of the water authority.  “We are not funded by tax dollars, our primary source of income comes from customer revenue and government grants. We are a AAA-rated , fiscally sound, well-managed entity," Gilbert said. “We want the public to know that we have confidence in the people that work here, that we had confidence in Bobby Chandler, and that they have done a good job."  rhc water authority currently has 15,637 customers representing approximately 45,000 water users.  “That means that we've had about 100 people complain about the bonuses that  were given, in comparison with the other 45,000 people that haven't complained. That makes the number that complained infinitesimal." Gilbert said.  “We have had a lot of public support," Comptroller Annette Barnes said. “Contractors, local business owners, and customers have called in voicing their support. Not everyone agrees w ith the county commission."  Members of the water board said they were somewhat blindsided by the uproar over the bonuses. While a Christmas bonus was not given every year, they have been given several times over the years and had been given in 2003 and 2004. With no objections having been raised in prior years, the board had not expected any to be raised this past year.  “It is customary for .Alabama utilities to give bonuses to tlieir employees," Gilbert  said. “Madison gave them and even New Hope gave their employees a bonus. A bonus is given to rew'ard a job well done and for dedicated service."  After the uproar over the $15,000 Christmas bonus paid to retiring manager Bobby Chandler and the S500 bonus per employee, the water rate increase was temporarily put on hold, but the water board members did not confirm that this hold was permanent.  “This would be the third year of a planned increase in water rates. If we put a rate increase on hold we will also delay expansion of our system and any replacements of old lines. We'll just be making repairs but not getting ahead," Gilbert said.  The planned increase would add 41 cents to the current minimum bill of  See Water Board, Page 3A  Athens man sentenced in Dorn case  BIRMINGHAM - A 48-year-old Athens man has been sentenced to 68 months in prison on charges stemming from child pornography.  Charles Wayne Graviet w-as sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Birmingham. He was ordered to prison after being convicted on a number of charges including possession of child pornography, two counts of distribution of child pornography via computer, two counts of using a computer to attempt to send obscene images to a child receipt of child pornography by computer  See Porn case, Page 2A  Bruce reports to prison in Marianna, Fla.  Aiding tsunami victims  From staff reports  Athens accountant Donna Bruce reported to a Florida jail this week to serve a maximum sentence of 37 months for fraud convictions.  Bruce, 43, will serve the time at FCl Marianna, a prison in Marianna, Fla., authorities said. She pleaded guilty in August to charges of money laundering, mail fraud and tax evasion.  She was sentenced in November in U.S. District Court in Birmingham and was ordered to pay $872,372.42 in restitution.  Bruce was also ordered to forfeit a home and two vehicles she is accused of purchasing with money received from a client, according to U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin. Bruce  See Bruce, Page 2A  Ncws-Courier Kim Rynders  Students in Beth Bates class at Elkmont High School make flower pens to sell for SLThe proceeds will benefit tsunami victims. Students creating pens are, from left, Kayla Terry, Keith Blair, Whitney Wells and Russell Jackson.  Elkmont High School students make, sell flower pens as part of relief effort  As a part of her Contemporary' American Issues class at Elkmont High School, teacher Beth Bates thought encouraging students to raise money for tsunami relief would be a good way to incorporate current issues into her lesson plan.  “1 wanted to make students aware of some things that are going on in the world around them," Bates said. “1 knew that most of the students would leant better if they were able to use their hands and work together."  The 23 students in the class are making ilow'er pens and pencils out of silk flowers, floral tape and ordinary pens and pencils. The writing utensils sell for SI each.  Elkmont Principal Mickey Glass said Friday afternoon the  students collected $500, halfway to their goal of $1,000.  “The whole pen idea came from an aide that we have here, Lisa Watkins, who is absolutely wonderful," Bates said. “She has been so awesome in helping me get this project off the ground. And Mr. Glass has been so supportive. He has guided me through the money handling part, as well as Rhonda Hall."  The students w ill send the money they collect to UNICEF.  “We chose this agency because they focus on children...,” Bates said. “1 wanted the students to get to make something they could sell so they could have that sense of accomplishment that they had really done something."  Cruisin’ on a Friday afternoon  News-Couricr/Amanda Siniard  Ryder Tetrault appears to be having a load of fun Friday afternoon as he cruises the streets of his Athens neighborhood in his John Deer Gator.  Property tax collection ‘norma  By Nancy Glassc oc k  nancy@athensne\\'s-coiirier.com Revenue Commissioner Brian Patterson said Friday that property tax collection has been “pretty normal" in comparison to past years.  Limestone County has collected SI0.6 million or 85 percent of property taxes that were due Dec. 31.  “That’s about par for the course," Patterson said. “We'll have another big collection at the end of this month, then in May we’ll have our sale.”  While most of the tax collection will remain in the  county, a portion w ill go toward statewide programs.  Patterson said tax collection goes toward the state soldier and school funds and to tunds established for .Athens-Limestone Hospital, public libraries, county and city schools and the towns of Elkmont, Mooresville, Lester and property annexed in Huntsville.  Delinquent fees charged to property owners who did not pay taxes by the Dec. 31 deadline w'ill increase  See Property tax, Page 3A  Stories wanted for special edition  The theme for The News-Courier's annual special section published in February is “People Who Make a Ditference.”  We do not want to only recognize people in the public eye, but those behind the scenes as well. Do you know someone at your church who helps others without asking anything in retuni? Does one of your neighbors always offer a hand? Has your family helped you in a time of great need?  Anyone who has made a ditference in your life can be the subject of a story.  We are asking readers to write about that special person and submit the story for publication in our special section.  Or just tell us about one good deed did someone return your lost cat, or money you had misplaced'.’ Tell us  about it.  To submit a story, e-mail a copy to kelly(^athensnew's-courier.com or send to 410 W. Green Street, Athens, Ala., 35611.  Stories should be no longer than about 1,0(X) words. Deadline for submissions is .Ian. 31.  Please include a photo of the subject if you have one. The New's-Cowier is careful with photos submitted to us and we attempt to return them in the condition in which they were submitted.  Howe\ er, we recommend you do not submit valuable or one-of-a-kind photos. Because of the volume of photos we receive, they may be misplaced from time to time.  If you have questions, call Managing Editor Kelly Ka/ek at 232-2720.   

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